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posted by janrinok on Sunday April 05 2020, @01:01AM   Printer-friendly
from the tell-us-your-stories dept.

'The phone slipped into the bath': Conference call tales:

"I was on a call last week and a colleague's half-naked boyfriend walked behind her," recalls communications consultant Jason Nisse.

His experience illustrates the pitfalls of videoconferencing, a technology that thousands of workers are getting used to as they attempt to work from home.

In one (genuine) email doing the rounds, a financial services worker is told: "Your screen is visible and we can all see you watching porn in between enquiries."

Teleconferencing apps like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet are reporting dramatic user increases.

For many of us, this means getting to grips with a whole new way of working. Line quality, technology problems and of course user ineptitude add kerfuffle to meetings. Making sure everyone understands how the technology works can save a huge amount of time when it comes to the meeting going live.

Some bosses have also realised that conference calls show just how meetings are populated with staff who don't really need to be there. Cutting down the number of people involved also cuts down on the amount of unwanted noise.

Heavy breathing, sniffing, coughing, dogs and doorbells can all be dispatched by shutting off the microphone with the mute button.

Even without video, conference calls can be revealing.

"I remember a client was on a call while in the bath, and you could hear splashing and the tap running. He then realised the microphone was on and the phone slipped into the bath. Gurgle gurgle gurgle. He jumped out the bath to get another phone, slid and fell down the stairs," recalls Neil Henderson from Zurich Insurance.

Come on - share your best stories!


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Zoom Admits Data Got Routed Through China 13 comments

Zoom admits data got routed through China - Business Insider:

In a statement late Friday, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan admitted to mistakenly routing calls via China.

"In our urgency to come to the aid of people around the world during this unprecedented pandemic, we added server capacity and deployed it quickly — starting in China, where the outbreak began," Yuan said. "In that process, we failed to fully implement our usual geo-fencing best practices. As a result, it is possible certain meetings were allowed to connect to systems in China, where they should not have been able to connect."

He did not say how many users were affected.

During spells of heavy traffic, the video-conferencing service shifts traffic to the nearest data center with the largest available capacity – but Zoom's data centers in China aren't supposed to be used to reroute non-Chinese users' calls.

This is largely due to privacy concerns: China does not enforce strict data privacy laws and could conceivably demand that Zoom decrypt the contents of encrypted calls.

Separately, researchers at the University of Toronto also found  Zoom's encryption used keys issued via servers in China, even when call participants were outside of China.

[...] Zoom has faced multiple high-profile security issues in recent weeks as it struggles to cope with an unprecedented surge in traffic and new users.

Zoom did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment and clarification.

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Sunday April 05 2020, @01:28AM (8 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 05 2020, @01:28AM (#979212) Homepage Journal

    The vast majority of meetings are just to stroke the boss's ego. It's obscene, really. Boss exposes his ego, strokes it, and tells us all how good it feels. Two to six sycophants ask the boss if they may stroke his ego for him. Boss leans back in his chair, and allows each in turn to stroke his ego.

    Is teleconferencing any different?

    --
    Through a Glass, Darkly -George Patton
    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @01:29AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @01:29AM (#979214)

      Yes, there is a time lag.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by EJ on Sunday April 05 2020, @01:59AM (6 children)

      by EJ (2452) on Sunday April 05 2020, @01:59AM (#979225)

      Your job must suck ass. In my job, we only have working meetings where stuff actually gets done.

      How can people be such dumbasses on the phone? I always keep my phone muted when I'm not talking. I also don't take baths during meetings. What in the Hell is wrong with people? If they weren't in this lockdown, they would be AT work, and not taking a bath.

      • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:08AM (1 child)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:08AM (#979230) Homepage Journal

        The job does suck a lot. We working people manage to get things done, in spite of management.

        There is some small chance that things will improve though. The plant manager has been run off. That's a combination of his kissing the wrong asses, incompetence, and his ego stroking. If only about three more incompetents are run off, we could have a nice work environment.

        --
        Through a Glass, Darkly -George Patton
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @08:35AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @08:35AM (#979328)

          Hesitating on the +1

          Do you mean liberl pinko bastards or real hard-working Americans?

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Grishnakh on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:22AM

        by Grishnakh (2831) on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:22AM (#979237)

        What in the Hell is wrong with people? If they weren't in this lockdown, they would be AT work, and not taking a bath.

        Yes, that is true, but they *aren't* at work, they're at home (and attending a phone meeting there), so their entire way of thinking has changed. Having to physically go to work is very different from working at home, in both good and bad ways. Speaking from personal experience, on the plus side you don't have the stress and aggravation of the commute by car, your kitchen is right there so you can easily make whatever food or drinks you're normally able to at home (which is usually different than what you can make at the office kitchen), you have your pets there, you don't have annoying coworkers coming to you in person and bothering you. On the minus side, it's much easier to be distracted because you don't have the physical separation of work and home, so it can be harder to stay focused, and also it can be harder to stop working and return to "free time". So some people will tend to blend the two, with some sometimes hilarious results.

      • (Score: 5, Funny) by driverless on Sunday April 05 2020, @06:38AM (2 children)

        by driverless (4770) on Sunday April 05 2020, @06:38AM (#979311)

        I go out of my way to make phone conferences more interesting. One time I filled up a large watering can, excused myself, spent an eternity slowly and loudly pouring water into the toilet bowl (with occasional breaks), flushed, and then pretended to come back and ask what I'd missed. Another time I had a loop of bleating sheep in the background which I ended with "quiet, girls!". Unfortunately the cow-orkers know me so it doesn't have as much effect as it should.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @08:39AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @08:39AM (#979329)

          Well aren't you the prize they were looking for when advertising for your position?

          • (Score: 4, Funny) by driverless on Sunday April 05 2020, @08:41AM

            by driverless (4770) on Sunday April 05 2020, @08:41AM (#979330)

            Naah, that's Paul. He can clear out half our open-plan office for a solid ten minutes after some beer and tuna.

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by SomeGuy on Sunday April 05 2020, @01:58AM (14 children)

    by SomeGuy (5632) on Sunday April 05 2020, @01:58AM (#979224)

    I don't even own a webcam (or whatever they call them these days). Played around with one back in the Windows 3.1 days (yes they had them for 3.1) and could not see the appeal. I value my privacy, and nobody would want to see my ugly face anyway. Fortunately I have not needed one yet.

    Personally I find working at home has too many distractions, and consumer-grade internet service does not have the speed or reliability to always work from home. Of course, as the economy collapses, what do you think is going to happen to all this fancy high-tech infrastructure? It's not going to get better.

    As I've pointed out before, all this forced teleworking is going to prove who can be outsourced to India and who can't.

    It's funny, the local news stations have had most of their news anchors reporting from their homes using their own equipment. Obviously, it is all just for show, but it quickly become clear numerous reasons why they don't normally do that. Lag, low frame rate, echoes, bitting out, personal backgrounds, noise, and such.

    • (Score: 2) by EJ on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:02AM (7 children)

      by EJ (2452) on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:02AM (#979226)

      Most laptops have them built-in these days, but that doesn't make them any less stupid.

      Videoconferencing is stupid as Hell. Nobody needs to see anyone's face. If you have anything meaningful to present, it's a chart that can be shared without the need for a webcam.

      People are idiots.

      • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:11AM (6 children)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:11AM (#979231) Homepage Journal

        A laptop camera can be "fixed" with a dremel, or a drill with a small drill bit.

        --
        Through a Glass, Darkly -George Patton
        • (Score: 4, Touché) by Fnord666 on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:22AM (4 children)

          by Fnord666 (652) on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:22AM (#979238) Homepage

          A laptop camera can be "fixed" with a dremel, or a drill with a small drill bit.

          Or, somewhat less destructively, a small piece of electrical tape.

          • (Score: 3, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @03:45AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @03:45AM (#979272)

            Simpler just to run gnu libre Linux, where RMS won't load the proprietary firmware required!

          • (Score: 2, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @03:46AM (2 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @03:46AM (#979273)

            Tape can fall off. Broken lenses don't fall back in.

            • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Sunday April 05 2020, @10:13AM

              by Gaaark (41) on Sunday April 05 2020, @10:13AM (#979345) Journal

              Well, I remember this one time... at band camp...

              :)

              --
              --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
            • (Score: 2) by Fnord666 on Sunday April 05 2020, @05:47PM

              by Fnord666 (652) on Sunday April 05 2020, @05:47PM (#979439) Homepage

              Tape can fall off. Broken lenses don't fall back in.

              Fair point but corporate frowns on vandalizing their equipment.

        • (Score: 4, Informative) by Ethanol-fueled on Sunday April 05 2020, @05:02AM

          by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Sunday April 05 2020, @05:02AM (#979290) Homepage

          Often thought about modifying my laptop with hardware switches for the camera and mic. Or, better, have a trusted hardware vendor manufacture that feature built-in with transparent plastic around the switch area so you can see it anytime and know it hasn't been tampered with. It's better than paranoid-looking stickers or tape.

          It's a goddamn travesty that (on some laptop models, at least) the camera LED is a separate thing enabled by some logic pulse somewhere rather than current actually flowing through the camera.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by krishnoid on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:27AM (2 children)

      by krishnoid (1156) on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:27AM (#979245)

      Yes, it's sort of for show, but when the administration is saying one thing and doing another [soylentnews.org] about physical distancing, while all the late-night *comedy* hosts are setting an example for their audiences by broadcasting from home (hopefully from webcams or the like), who do you think is really doing the bare minimum to represent what to take seriously, and who's treating it as a spectacle?

      Too bad they don't bother to try to dress up at home for their show though -- that would convey a better sense of trustworthiness. That's what suits are for, right?

      Plus, since a lot of India is also shut down, this can also prove who can be outsourced to India and which companies' services could possibly be eliminated entirely. And maybe this will improve consumer network infrastructure if enough people complain. We can dream, anyway.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:43AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:43AM (#979250)
      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:59AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:59AM (#979260)

        Yesterday, CNN was criticizing Trump for saying he won't wear a mask in public. During the segments where they were discussing that, the split screens included Kaitlan Collins and Jim Acosta, reporting from the White House press briefing room and outside the White House, respectively. Both were in public, but neither wore a mask or any other face covering.

        Wearing some sort of cloth mask in public makes a lot of sense right now. But I wonder if CNN noticed how poor of an example they were setting while criticizing Trump for setting a poor example.

    • (Score: 2) by progo on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:55AM

      by progo (6356) on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:55AM (#979257) Homepage

      A friend of mine did a home shopping broadcast channel sales hour from her home office. There were definitely some difficulties with the setup, but it can be ironed out with experience.

      But I think this kind of work, with more than one person speaking, is much much more effective if they're in the same physical space.

    • (Score: 2) by istartedi on Sunday April 05 2020, @07:23AM (1 child)

      by istartedi (123) on Sunday April 05 2020, @07:23AM (#979319) Journal

      If the networks thought this would be permanent, they'd spring for better cameras, lighting, a more stable uplink, and perhaps even a remodel of the anchor's den for better acoustics. Quality would be comparable to what you see on "talking head" political shows. Actually, it should be better since those shows frequently involve people conferencing in across the globe with noticeable latency. For local news, latency would be much lower.

      --
      Appended to the end of comments you post. Max: 120 chars.
      • (Score: 2) by stretch611 on Monday April 06 2020, @03:13AM

        by stretch611 (6199) on Monday April 06 2020, @03:13AM (#979564)

        No need for remodels... Just give everyone a large green screen with the exact same color. Than they can replace it with a backdrop of the network's studio. (but they will still need the anchor to have good lighting and quality broadband at home.)

        --
        Now with 5 covid vaccine shots/boosters altering my DNA :P
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by progo on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:47AM (4 children)

    by progo (6356) on Sunday April 05 2020, @02:47AM (#979251) Homepage

    A few years ago I did a small project with a project manager who is actually only a few miles away from me, but we only collaborated via the network.

    He would often cold call me when I was deep in one of his tasks. It took several tries for me to train him to ASK to talk to me on the phone. And whenever we were talking, he usually had a parrot screaming in the background, almost never muted.

    I finally met him face to face in the office last autumn. He's decent enough in person.

    • (Score: 4, Funny) by Runaway1956 on Sunday April 05 2020, @03:49AM (3 children)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 05 2020, @03:49AM (#979275) Homepage Journal

      I'd never buy a parrot without a mute button!

      --
      Through a Glass, Darkly -George Patton
      • (Score: 1) by Ethanol-fueled on Sunday April 05 2020, @05:06AM

        by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Sunday April 05 2020, @05:06AM (#979292) Homepage

        There's a great Far Side strip with a parrot yelling, "Shaddup ya stupid boid! Awk! Shaddup you stupid boid!" as an angry man clutching a shotgun stares meanacingly at it. I tried to find the strip so I could make an SN political cartoon with the man labeled "Soylentnews" and the bird labeled "Ethanol-fueled" but that strip is damn impossible to find with search.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @05:42AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @05:42AM (#979298)

        Parrots have an off button. You have a couple stored in your safe.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 06 2020, @01:44AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 06 2020, @01:44AM (#979544)

          > Parrots have an off button.

          Yes and it's permanent, if they eat tobacco (cigarette/cigar butt) they die.

          A retired machinist and good friend had a great mynah bird, it cussed like he did (like the proverbial sailor). One of his best stories was when a local politician came by looking for a vote--the mynah in the other room cussed him out something fierce!

  • (Score: 2) by pkrasimirov on Sunday April 05 2020, @11:57AM (1 child)

    by pkrasimirov (3358) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 05 2020, @11:57AM (#979353)
    • (Score: 2) by SunTzuWarmaster on Monday April 06 2020, @06:05PM

      by SunTzuWarmaster (3971) on Monday April 06 2020, @06:05PM (#979718)
      I do a lot of calls and knew what you linked before I saw it. My favorite is where some random person has listened quietly to the whole meeting and only says goodbye.
  • (Score: 4, Funny) by lizardloop on Sunday April 05 2020, @12:31PM

    by lizardloop (4716) on Sunday April 05 2020, @12:31PM (#979358) Journal

    Some years ago I was contracting for a company doing software for a large satellite TV company. We were basically there to put pointless updates on pointless bug reports in a tracker that seemed to grow indefinitely. Each morning we would have a teleconference to update each other on our no progress. This particular morning I dialled in early and no one else was on the call yet. While I was waiting my brother rang me. I began chatting with brother and said something to the effect of "yeah, the job is a joke, I haven't done any real work in months, it's just a timesheet filling exercise etc etc". After a few minutes of such candid talk I noticed my Skype window trying to alert me to incoming messages. I clicked on the window and there was a message from a colleague saying "we can hear you on the conference call". It was then it dawned on me I'd left my laptop signed in to the call all the time I'd been venting. I hung up on my brother and joined the meeting as if nothing as happened assuming that I would be quietly fired later that day. Instead all I got was a single sentence message from my supervisor saying "we all thought what you said was hilarious".

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @01:22PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05 2020, @01:22PM (#979367)

    There's a short video showing a woman who muted a teleconference but forgot that her camera was still on, so when she took the laptop to the toilet, then sat on the toilet, her co-workers are all watching.

    https://www.iheart.com/content/2020-03-23-woman-forgets-shes-on-video-conference-uses-bathroom-as-co-workers-watch/ [iheart.com]

  • (Score: 2) by isj on Sunday April 05 2020, @04:56PM

    by isj (5249) on Sunday April 05 2020, @04:56PM (#979419) Homepage

    Years ago I was in a telephone conference with a salesman/consultant in a uhm.. developing-country. Everything was fine until the goats started bleating in the background. The salesman tried to move out of their range but failed. I found a bit difficult to keep a straight face after that.

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Tork on Sunday April 05 2020, @10:06PM

    by Tork (3914) on Sunday April 05 2020, @10:06PM (#979506)
    My wife has ordered me a number of novelty masks. Tomorrow I'm attending my video-meeting as an iguana.
    --
    🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
  • (Score: 2) by stretch611 on Monday April 06 2020, @03:43AM (1 child)

    by stretch611 (6199) on Monday April 06 2020, @03:43AM (#979567)

    Back in the late 90's I made an ass out of myself.

    I was the lead developer on a morning conference call to discuss current issues and problems in our systems. Mind you, back then this was just a conference call, no video... but it was required as our developers, analysts, and users where located in 3 different states. Everyone would just take the call at their desk.

    While the call was about current system problems, I do not remember many of the specifics from back then... But I do remember, it was just myself, the conference host, and one of the really good analysts on the call. A day or two before, one of the (incompetent) analysts was supposed to get me some test data to run through one of my systems to test new changes. I spent at least 2 full days trying to get that data through my system only to have it completely fail and me searching for the reasons why it failed; only to find out in the end, that the problem was not a problem with my system, but a problem with all the test data coming in... despite repeated assurances about the validity of the data.

    Well, with no one else on the call, and knowing that I could trust the host and the one analyst that was on the call already, I went into a tirade about the incompetent analyst. I talked about how it would have been easier just to do it myself and quicker too after wasting two full days trying to get the crappy data throguh the system. And of course, you can probably see this coming, but the person I was denigrating was already on the call and silent. While it felt good to unload, it was far from professional.

    Fortunately, I had a good boss at the time and he did understand about the lack of skill in the person I was talking about; I was able to get off with a quick chat to not let it happen again. This is a situation that could be career ending if your boss is not as understanding, or if the person you talk about is a really good sycophant.

    --
    Now with 5 covid vaccine shots/boosters altering my DNA :P
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 06 2020, @06:14PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 06 2020, @06:14PM (#979723)
      I had one last week where I had a panic attack. My line (to a bystander) was: "They are going to fucking cancel this contract... No no, the performer is just incompetent and the approach was garbage to begin with". Phone was not on mute, and I looked at that and had my blood freeze. Luckily, I was muted in the GoToMeeting.
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