Zooming to the Midlands for a meeting

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The Midlands User Group (MUG) usually meets once every other month, and the meeting this month would ordinarily have taken place today – but like other user group meetings and shows, it couldn’t go ahead because of the pandemic and consequent lockdown.

However, following a last minute announcement, the meeting did go ahead, with attendees remaining at home, using video conferencing service Zoom.

John Rickman posted an announcement to the group’s mailing list yesteday evening with all the necessary details for the meeting. There was a brief discussion about the Zoom service, and what platforms could be used to run its software – which, unsurprisingly, doesn’t include RISC OS – and today at 2pm, half a dozen members logged in to what may have been the first virtual RISC OS user group meeting.

Most of those in attendance had never used Zoom before, and there was nothing specific planned for the meeting, so it more of an informal gathering. As a test for the idea, though, it worked – so much so that another is planned for next month. Longer term, ideas were discussed. For example, (when things return to normal) as well as having the regular meeting every two months at the Village Hall in Wychbold, having an online meeting in the ‘other’ month via Zoom. Another possibility might be to use it at the regular meetings, so that people who may be unable to travel can attend the meeting virtually.

Perhaps other groups could think about their options, and whether it might be practical for them to offer a similar solution for meetings – especially if their members sometimes come from further afield. It might also be an ideal medium for guest speakers to use if the meeting is particularly distant, and the time of the meeting makes travel difficult.