The Hybrid Chestnut – A ‘Titanic’ Success!
by Jim Wallman
Onside report on the second CLWG Hybrid session.
So for the couple of people (Jaap, Peter and Terry) who tried to join us on Sunday 7th November, thank you for your patience and apologies for the loss of contact.
Having been lulled into a false sense of security at the first effort at a Hybrid Chestnut in September, I (re-)learnt the fatal error of making assumptions.
It wasn’t helped by a certain amount of unpreparedness on my part (forgetting my box of webcams was something of an unforced error).
Nevertheless the key problem was that the wifi in the church hall wasn’t working, and, because it had all ‘just worked’ in September we were caught out. Attempts to use phone tethering hit data limits and signal limits, and despite the best efforts of Dave, Andrew and myself we couldn’t get our on-line members involved.
This reminded me of a number of key lessons which, to be honest, I should have paid more attention to because I do know better. But in the spirit of Quality, Criticism and Development, here are my checklist of things to remember for a hybrid session, which will hopefully help other (and me) in future.
Turn up early
- Allow at least an hour before the session starts for tech-wrangling. If it isn’t possible to access the venue ahead of time, make sure the participants know that events will start after a hour of preparation time, and structure the session accordingly.
- More than one. Make sure they have been fired up before the session and that any update cycles they need to go through have been done.
- Don’t forget peripherals such as mouse, headphones, microphone. A session needs at least one good quality directional mic.
- Webcams – the number and type will depend on the games being played, but since webcams are easily portable bring them anyway.
- Take account of the number of USB ports the laptop has. Can you connect all the things you will need to connect?
- The built in speakers on laptops or phones are no use at all. Bring external speakers, the more powerful the better.
Projector and screen (so that we can all see the on-line participants).
- Make sure the connections between the projector and the laptops are compatible. Only a fool would bring a laptop with only HDMI for a VGA-only projector (oops).
- The hall has only a limited number of sockets (four I think), and they are not ideally placed. Always bring multi-plug extensions.
- Having been bitten by a wifi failure, be prepared for loss of connectivity. This can be mitigated by using phones, but only if those phones have a decent signal and plenty (and I do mean plenty) of data available. Have a ‘Plan B’ (and ‘C’ and ‘D’ and probably ‘E’) for how you might involve off-site participants if the wifi fails. One thought is for the off-site players to have a standby game to play in the event of being cut off from civilisation.
- It is important that off-site participant improve their chances of hearing everything by making sure they have a wired connection (if they can).
Having access to email (and addresses) as the fall-back for communicating with off-site participants. Or ensure your phone book is up to date.
These are my first thoughts – please comment here or on Facebook if you can offer any more suggestions or thoughts on helping the Hybrid Chestnut.