Videoconference Frequently Asked Questions

Technology FAQ compiled by Gabriel Gibson Acosta


  • What type of equipment and software will I need to do a videoconference?

    Minimum requirements for equipment; all users must have some sort of computer/smartphone/tablet and access to a good, stable, internet connection. They must also have access to a mic; phones and tablets have this built in, and most laptops have a built in mic.

    • Minimum requirements for software; all users must have access to some sort of video conferencing software, in most cases this will be Skype.
    • There are additional requirements for recording that are talked about below.
    • While it is possible to skype or Facetime on a smartphone, if you are going to record a conferencing session a laptop or computer is highly recommended.

    What video conferencing software should I use? - There are a couple of options for video conferencing

    Quicktime, Rating: ★★○       

    This software if free, and is the Skype equivalent for Apple, even though Skype works for Apple also

    ○        This is only available for Apple IOS or OS X users

    ○        Available at Online Apple Store

    ●       Skype, Rating: ★★★★★

    ○        This software is free, ubiquitous, and can hold multiple people on a call for no additional charge

    ○        Most video conferencing software is made to be compatible with skype, which makes finding recording software easier

    ○        You have to pay per minute for out of country calls

    ○        Most audio recording software is made exclusively for Skype

    ○        Can host a group conversation with up to 10 people

    ○        Available at “http://www.skype.com/en/download-skype/skype-for-computer/

    ●       Oovoo, Rating: ★★★

    ○        Can host up to twelve, which is more than the ten that skype can host

    ○        I (Gabriel Acosta) have not tested this product, but it has gotten great reviews.

    ○        Available at “http://www.oovoo.com/Next.aspx?os=downloadwin

    ●       Google Hangout, Rating: ★★★★

    ○        Can support up to 10 people, just like Skype

    ○        Can make international calls for free

    ○        Available at “https://www.google.com/+/learnmore/hangouts/

    ●       Facetime, Rating: ★

    ○        Only Supports up to two callers

    ○        Is only available for Apple Users

    ○        Available at Online Apple Store

    ○        This is only available for Apple IOS (IPhones/IPads) or OS X users (Macintosh/Macbooks)

    Are there any countries where Skype is not supported or is restricted?

    There are three countries where Skype is not supported because of disagreements between the government of these countries and Skype

    ○        Egypt

    ○        Morocco

    ○        Nigeria

    ●       Besides this, there are several countries where you can access Skype, but the government heavily restricts use of Skype

    ○        Including China, Oman, and several other totalitarian governments

    ■        Here is a website that better shows which countries VOIP connections are restricted and to what degree

    ■        “http://blog.voxox.com/blog/bid/320731/Interactive-Infographic-of-Countries-That-Block-VoIP-DEFCON-VoIP

    ■        “http://provpnaccounts.com/List_of_countries_which_block_website_content_VOIP_Skype_including_countries_China_UAE_Oman_Syria_Turkey_Malaysia_and_the_continents_of_Asia_Caribbean_Africa_North_America_Europe_and_the_Middle_East-124-articles

    ○        Also; be careful about what updates you accept while in internet restricted countries. There are reports that governments have disguised spyware, and restrictive software, as updates.

    ○        Although these are secure blocks, there are ways to get around them, albeit illegally

    ●       Are there any other restrictions that a user should be aware of?

    ○        Besides any government firewalls, the only other restriction is your ability to access a good internet connection. In countries where internet is not widely available, there are usually internet cafes located in major and capital cities that are made for hosting any Skype or VOIP calls.

    ●       Is there a way that I can access these sites (possibly against the law)

    ○        There are a couple of options, the easiest solution is to use a proxy website to access a restricted website by pretending to visit another (this is explained in more detail later). However, recently governments have caught on to this trick and have started restricting these sites. An example of this site is “ninjaproxy.com”

    ○        The other common tool is a VPN (Virtual Private Network). This is a program that allows users to send data through a secure network, such as “Hotspot Shield” while using a public network. In laymans terms, it allows a user to use programs like Skype without any of the data being accessible to 3rd parties that would otherwise have access to it.

    Disclaimer; After all the precautions that could be taken, this technology is still not 100% secure. Please use cautiously

    DISCLAIMER: A dilemma I have run into is that a lot of the information that I find is on blogs, un-certified sites, and the like. These sites, I am afraid, may not tell the whole story. The creators of this FAQ did their best to keep misinformation to a minimum. There is a policy that information about restricted countries and technologies/restrictions used in those countries, is not considered true unless that information comes from two independent sources. The FAQ makers are not native to these countries and have no way of knowing what are considered reputable sources in said countries. This is just a disclaimer to take all of the information in this section with a grain of salt.

    ○        Here is an example of this methodology in practice;

    ○        The question was posed whether VOIP connections were banned in Myanmar. I followed several sources, including “Business Insider”, and found that all of the different sources cited one article from “The Irrawaddy”, which claimed there might be internet restrictions. For this reason, Myanmar is not included in the list of VOIP restricted countries.

    How do I download VOIP software? (Using Skype as an example)

    1. Download the product from the website provided; EX: http://www.skype.com/en/download-skype/skype-for-computer/. Make sure to choose the download that fits your system description (ie. Mac v. PC, 32bit v. 64bit.)
    2. Open downloaded files and follow instructions to continue downloading.
    3. CAUTION: Be careful what you agree too. Some programs will try to make you download other toolbars, search engines, or other programs. None of the programs listed require you to download any other program, so you should never have to accept these downloads too.
    4. Once downloaded, create an account by opening the program and asking to create a profile.
    5. To make calls, add contacts using the left handed side of the interface. Once they accept, you can right click on their name and select call on the roll down menu.
    6. To add more people on the call. Click the “+” button in the middle of the screen and select the contacts you wish to add.
    7. For skype you can have up to ten people, including yourself, on one call. For Oovoo you can have up to twelve.
    8. This guide summarized from “https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA11098/getting-started-with-skype-windows-desktop

    Where can I go to find answers to common problems with Skype?

    ●       Where can I find guides for Skype?

    ○        “https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA34431/where-can-i-get-downloadable-guides-for-skype-connect

    ●       How much internet bandwidth do I need?

    ○        “https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA10288/how-much-internet-bandwidth-do-i-need-with-skype-connect

    ●       How do I fix problems with my connection?

    ○        “https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA10309/i-use-skype-connect-and-i-m-having-problems-with-call-quality-what-should-i-do

    ●       Where can I find any other Skype problem support?

    ○        “https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA34431/where-can-i-get-downloadable-guides-for-skype-connect

    ●       How do I change the language for Skype?

    ○        “https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA73/how-do-i-change-the-language-used-by-skype-for-windows-desktop

    How do I record Audio or Visuals from Videoconferencing?

    Most quality video conferencing software does not come with ways to record any audio or visual data. To do this, you will need to download 3rd party recording software. There are a couple options available to us depending on how much money you are willing to spend

    ●       Evaer ★★★

    ○        The program costs $20 in a one time payment.

    ○        It is very easy to use and is made to be compatible with skype.

    ○        Evaer can record up to the ten people that skype allows for.

    ○        Evaer records the audio in a .mp3 file, so you will not need to deal with storing or converting .WAV files.

    ○        Available at “http://www.evaer.com/download.htm

    ●       MP3 Skype recorder ★★★★

    ○        This program is only compatible with Skype

    ○        Has a customizable bit rate, from 32 kbps, which makes the podcast take up less data storage but lowers sound quality, to 128 kbps, which takes up more data storage but makes higher quality audio

    ○        Is about as usable as Evaer, ranks higher because it is free

    ○        Completely free

    ○        Available at http://voipcallrecording.com/

    ●       Free Screen Video Recorder ★★★★★ (For Skype)

    ○        This program can be used for multiple tasks

    ■        Can record video

    ■        Can record Skype audio

    ○        This program is completely free

    ○        Available at “http://www.dvdvideosoft.com/guides/free-screen-video-recorder.htm/?FSM%20=%20true

    Are there any tips or tricks to improve recorded audio quality?

    ●       On all sides of the conversation, make sure that the users are in rooms that do not echo and have good ambient noise cancelling acoustics. Make sure to eliminate all forms of background noise, such as fans or background conversations.●       Make sure that all users have a stable internet connection. This is necessary to make sure that there is no interruption in service during the recording and that there is clear audio

    ●       Because we are recording video conferencing conversations, the audio quality will never be as perfect as being having a conversation in the same room. However as a frequent podcast listener, I can assure you that the better quality the call the more listeners will stick around and listen.

    ●       If you are recording/conferencing from somewhere and there are hiccups in the conversation, try turning off your camera options. This will take away some stress from your bandwidth and make your audio more clear.

    ●       Users should know that at least most if not all calls made on a smartphone will not have the same audio quality as calls made between two computers

    What should I know/do to make my recordings sound professional?

    ●       If possible, try to avoid using inbuilt computer mics. There are cheap, noise cancelling, mics available at radio shack or online.  Noise cancelling mics cut out on any outside noises, such as air conditioning or computer fans, and will make the interview easier to listen to for listeners.●       There is free, video editing, software for any operating system. Perhaps the most ubiquitous is Audacity for PC or Linux, or Garageband for Mac users. These will be necessary to add any introductions or commentary. These also allow you to listen to the interview before it is released and check for any audio problem.

    ●       Another highly recommended program is wavosaur. This is a free online program that I found is very easy to use. Although it is not as versatile as audacity, it is very easy to pick up and run with.

    ●       URL: http://www.wavosaur.com

    ●       For converting audio, I recommend “DVDVideoSoft Free Studio. This is a free program that lets you convert .wav files to .mp3 files. It is fast, easy to use, and free

    ●       URL: http://www.dvdvideosoft.com/

    ●       Tech Specs. There should be a minimum bitrate of 128 bps, or 198 bps if there is any music being played. Most podcast hosting sites require interviews should be released as mp3 files

    How do I distribute my podcasts/recordings?

    By far the easiest way to distribute is to upload your audio files or video files as mp3 or mp4 files respectively to Youtube. Here any user with internet can see your recordings without any hassle

    Instructions on how to do this: “https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/1696878?hl=en

    To let users download and listen to podcasts independent of Youtube, it is common to use services such as Libsyn, Castmate or Podomatic which are open for anyone to listen to.

    It is also important to start a blog along with the podcasts, named after your podcast, that will provide listeners with schedules and links to the services mentioned above

    Online Instructions “http://www.wikihow.com/Start-Your-Own-Podcast

    How should I conduct interviews? How are podcast interviews conducted?

    ●       The advantage of any podcast over a traditional interview style is that it creates a relaxed atmosphere, where people are more interested in hearing detail oriented stories as opposed to SoundBits.●       The interviewer should do her/his best to create an open and free conversation environment where the interviewee is encouraged to open up.

    ●       The interviewer should be the type of person who is good at conversation and exudes friendliness. The more affable the person the more relaxed the interviewer.

    ●       Do not try to ambush the interviewee with any gotcha question. This will put them on guard and defeat the point of the podcast

    ●       Be prepared. Although you cannot chart out the entire interview, it is important to come prepared with questions and a narrative that you are trying to tell.

    ●       Always make sure to have a pre-interview. This is not recorded but allows your to build a rapport with the interviewee. This is the time to ask any questions you have and to give the person you are interviewing what you will be asking and what is appropriate to discuss. From personal experience, it is better if you use this part of the interview to get comfortable with the person you are talking to. This will let the interviewee get comfortable and will lead to a better overall podcast.

    ●       In terms of length, most podcasts interviews last about an hour, but I would suggest taking as long as you want to interview someone if it will make for a better interview

    ●       DISCLAIMER; My inspiration for these rules have come from listening to the Nerdist Podcast (w/ Chris Hardwick), You made it weird (w/Pete Holmes) and the Howard Sterns show (w/ Howard Sterns). These podcasts I think have some of the best interviews in my opinion, and do a really good job of getting the interviewee to open up and talk freely

    What does ____ mean/ What is a(n)_____?

    ●       mp3; a file type that is used to hold compressed audio. Most audio files are kept in .mp3 files, for instance all songs in your iTunes library are stored as .mp3 files●       WAV; a file type that is used to hold uncompressed audio. Most professional podcasters keep a master copy of a recording as a .WAV file. In addition, a lot of recording software record audio in this format. IMPORTANT: In order to be distributed, all audio files must be converted into .mp3 files. How this is done is discussed below

    ●       VOIP (Voice over internet protocol); a group of technology that deliver voice and visual communications over IP networks (internet)

    ●       Proxy site explained; “http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/it-security/the-basics-of-using-a-proxy-server-for-privacy-and-security/

    ●       VPN explained; “http://gizmodo.com/5990192/vpns-what-they-do-how-they-work-and-why-youre-dumb-for-not-using-one

    Links/ Sources Index

    SKYPE

    ●       Where can I download skype?

    ○        “http://www.skype.com/en/download-skype/skype-for-computer/

    ●       How do I download Skype?

    ○        “https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA11098/getting-started-with-skype-windows-desktop

    ●       Where can I find guides for Skype?

    ○        “https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA34431/where-can-i-get-downloadable-guides-for-skype-connect

    ●       How much internet bandwidth do I need?

    ○        “https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA10288/how-much-internet-bandwidth-do-i-need-with-skype-connect

    ●       How do I fix problems with my connection

    ○        “https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA10309/i-use-skype-connect-and-i-m-having-problems-with-call-quality-what-should-i-do

    ●       Where can I find any other Skype problem support?

    ○        “https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA34431/where-can-i-get-downloadable-guides-for-skype-connect

    ●       How do I change the language for Skype?

    ○        “https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA73/how-do-i-change-the-language-used-by-skype-for-windows-desktop

    Other VOIP/videoconferencing programs

    ●       Oovoo

    ○        Available at “http://www.oovoo.com/Next.aspx?os=downloadwin

    ●       Google Hangout

    ○        Available at “https://www.google.com/+/learnmore/hangouts/

    ○        How to get started “https://support.google.com/hangouts/answer/2944865?hl=en

    ○        How to use Google Hangout “https://support.google.com/hangouts/answer/3115553?hl=en

    Video/Audio Recording Software

    ●       Evaer

    ○        Available at “http://www.evaer.com/download.htm

    ●       MP3 Skype recorder

    ○        Available at “http://voipcallrecording.com/

    ●       Free Screen Video Recorder

    ○        Available at “http://www.dvdvideosoft.com/guides/free-screen-video-recorder.htm/?FSM%20=%20true

    Distributing Podcasts

    ●       Youtube Distribution

    ○        “https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/1696878?hl=en

    ●       General Distribution

    ○        “http://www.wikihow.com/Start-Your-Own-Podcast

    ●       Wavosaur

    ○        http://www.wavosaur.com/

    ●       DVDVideoSoft Free Studio

    ○        http://www.dvdvideosoft.com/

    Tech Information

    ●       Proxy sites explained

    ○        “http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/it-security/the-basics-of-using-a-proxy-server-for-privacy-and-security/

    ●       VPN explained

    ○        “http://gizmodo.com/5990192/vpns-what-they-do-how-they-work-and-why-youre-dumb-for-not-using-one

    Disclaimers

    ●       Foreign Skype Restrictions Disclaimer

    DISCLAIMER: A dilemma I have run into is that a lot of the information that I find is on blogs, un-certified sites, and the like. These sites, I am afraid, may not tell the whole story. The creators of this FAQ did their best to keep misinformation to a minimum. There is a policy that information about restricted countries and technologies/restrictions used in those countries, is not considered true unless that information comes from two independent sources. The FAQ makers are not native to these countries and have no way of knowing what are considered reputable sources in said countries. This is just a disclaimer to take all of the information in this section with a grain of salt.

    ●       Podcast Etiquette disclaimer

    DISCLAIMER; My inspiration for these rules have come from listening to the Nerdist Podcast (w/ Chris Hardwick), You made it weird (w/Pete Holmes) and the Howard Sterns show (w/ Howard Sterns). These podcasts I think have some of the best interviews in my opinion, and do a really good job of getting the interviewee to open up and talk freely.

  • How do I assess a videoconference in my class?

    Here is a basic assessment form that we've used to good effect.  Feel free to tailor it for your needs.

     

    Assessment for Videoconference with ___________ 


    Intro:   We are gathering information on the effectiveness of videoconference guest lectures to assist in planning future curricular initiatives.  Please fill out the questions below to the best of your ability.       Responses will be kept confidential and your participation is voluntary.  You may choose not to take the survey, to stop responding at any time, or to skip any questions that you do not want to answer.   Your completion of the survey serves as your voluntary agreement to participate in this project.     This survey should take approximately 5 minutes.


    First, we'd like to know a little bit about you. 


    Q 1. Year What is your year in school? 

    • First Year (1)

    • Sophomore (2)

    • Junior (3)

    • Senior (4)

    • Other (5)


    Q 2. Major What is/are your major(s)?


    Q 3.  MInor What is/are your minor(s)?


    Part II: Rating the Videoconference with ___________________


    Q4.     First, list 2 or 3 details that you remember from the talk:


    Q5. On a scale from 0 to 10 how much do you agree with the following statements (with 0 meaning don't agree at all, and 10 meaning strongly agree)

    ______ The videoconference related well to the course content

    ______ The videoconference helped you better understand critical issues covered in the course

    ______ The videoconference provided you with real world experiences, insights, and perspectives about the course material

    ______ Overall, the experience was very valuable


    Q6 What was/were your favorite aspect(s) of the videoconference?


    Q7 What was/were your least favorite aspect(s) of the videoconference?


    Q8.  What would you recommend be done differently for future videoconferences in class?


    Q9.  Did you tell any of your friends or family (anyone who was not in class that day) about the Skype session? If so, what did you say?


    Q10  Would you like more videoconferences in your classes at the university?

    • Yes, Very much so

    • Yes

    • Perhaps

    • No

    • Definitely not


    Thank you very much for your time and participation!   Good luck with the end of the semester! 


    Why sign up to be a videoconference speaker?

    In general, signing up as a human rights speaker can help you:

    1.     Promote your human rights work including your issues and geographical region. 

    2.     Better promote your NGO or related organization.

    3.     Engage in live dialogues with audiences interested in your issue around the globe.  

    4.     Supplement your income through speaker’s fees or raise money for your favorite NGO by donating your         speaker fees.   

    Can I edit my profile page?

    Yes, you can edit your profile page as much as you like.  Just sign in and click "My Profile" then "Edit Profile".  You will want to keep your profile page up to date so others can more easily search for you and invite you to groups and events.   

    What if I know other people?

    Feel free to invite interested parties to join GHRD through your profile page.  Click on the pull down menu and select Invite Friends to GHRD or point your friends to www.globalhumanrightsdirect.com.   Thanks for helping us grow! 

    Who is running GHRD?

    Global Human Rights Direct was originally a brainchild of Bill Simmons a human rights scholar from the University of Arizona (www.williampaulsimmons.com) in the U.S.  Bill along with a committee of more than a dozen faculty members and some community members from Arizona applied for a grant from the University's Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry for seed money.  GHRD is now run by a committee of faculty members and community activitists.  We will also are guided by an international adivsory board made up of many leading human rights activists and scholars from around the globe.  

    More importantly, we would like to think of the members of GHRD as being actively involved in running GHRD.  If you have ideas for potential uses of the site or for contributors, issues, films, etc. please feel free to let us know.  We love to hear from GHRD users, and we love to hear new ideas of how to make the site work better to connect the world for human rights!  

     

    Security / anonymity

    We have started an entire blog devoted to issues of security and anonymity.  Feel free to click on Resources and then Blog and join in the conversation.  This is what we've started with:

    Sharing information including personal experiences about human rights issues can put some individuals at risk from their governments or other forces.  You are best able to judge whether sharing information for this project will put you at risk.  If you would like to contribute but with all identifying information removed from your profile page we will be happy to work with you to maintain your confidentiality.   We can even direct you to Internet tools that can be used to set up an anonymous email account.  However, none of these can absolutely guarantee your anonymity.  Please comment below about key issues regarding anonymity and confidentiality.  To discuss options for preserving anonymity and/or confidentiality, email the site managers directly at  info@globalhumanrightsdirect.com.  

    How do I set my fee?

    There are no strict guidelines for speaker fees, but GHRD is meant to serve as a forum to connect as many people as possible, and to encourage dialogues between folks that don't normally speak with each other.  So, large speaker's fees wouldn't fit the philosophy of the site very well.  

    1. In general, we recommend fees in the range of $50-200.00 per talk.  Any amount below $50 might not be worth navigating the transfer process and any fees.  
    2. Remember, that incomes of human rights stakeholders vary greatly across the globe.  You might set a staggered fee schedule - with one fee for the developing world and one for wealthier institutions.  You can also state that your fee is negotiable. 
    3. If you are suggesting one or more NGOs for donations in lieu of a speaker's fee, keep in mind that some NGOs have numerous sources of income while others would find any donation to be crucial for their success.  Also, keep in mind that it should be relatively easy for the donation to take place, otherwise your invitee might not be able to process the payment.  

    How can I attract more groups interested in me speaking to them

    If you are interested in speaking to more groups, you can take several steps to get the word out.  

    1. Ask the GHRD administrators to serve as a featured speaker on the homepage. 
    2. Create open events with other GHRD users on issues that will be compelling to other users.  
    3. Modify your profile page so that it can be found with more key term searches.  
    4. Invite your friends and colleagues to join GHRD - the more connections you have, the easier it will be for people to locate you.  

    As speaker – what information do you expect from inviters – length of talk, format, size and background of audience, etc?

    Inviters who are asking a human rights stakeholder to join their group for a class or other event should provide the following information at a minimum:

    1. The makeup of the audience - how many participants, their knowledge of the subject matter, any interesting facts about them that will connect them to the speaker.  Will there be any other guests joining you in class or via videoconference? 
    2. The format - do you expect a PowerPoint to be shared?  Should it be shared beforehand?  Will there be questions prepared for the speaker ahead of time?   
    3. Will the talk be recorded?  Video?  Audio? 
    4. The time.  Be sure to make clear your time zone.  What time will you expect the speaker to join you?  
    5. How long will they be expected to speak?
    6. Which videoconferencing software will you be using?  GHRD's built-in software, Skype, Oovoo, etc.?  Do you have a backup plan?  
    7. Be sure to share cell phone numbers in case anything comes up or to help coordinate the videoconference software.  
    8.