Zoom, Zoom, and more Zoom

LA ghost town

LA with no people, from a drone.

With everyone working from home, schooling from home, celebrating from home, and in some cases

mourning from home, Zoom has become a commonly heard word.  Zoom this Zoom that, I typically find myself attending a minimum of 3 Zoom meetings each workday and I think my record is 10 Zoom meetings in one day, but who’s counting because I’ve completely lost track! My mom was supposed to go to Austin, TX for a wedding, but that was changed and was also on Zoom with quite a few folks in virtual attendance.

Last week my aunt Rachel passed away and there was a memorial over the weekend.  (FYI, we don’t know if she had COVID, she was in Williamstown Commons but was not tested as she didn’t meet the criteria.) My mom and I attended her service via Duo, another video app similar to Zoom but made by Google. My brother was nice enough to help out while wearing a mask and social distancing by holding his cellphone for us to see.  We couldn’t hear what the priest was saying as he was so far away, but that was OK.  This was still the safest way for everyone to attend.  We are planning a full memorial for everyone in the family at a later date.

There’s lots of concern for privacy with Zoom, and rightfully so.  Zoom is super easy to use, and that’s it’s main weakness while at the same time being it’s greatest strength.  Here’s an article from the New York Times that explains pretty well.   Some students have reached out to me and the school with concerns ghost me!around using Zoom, but it’s just as safe as Facebook or Instagram or any of those other “free” things  Speaking of those, there’s are some ways to have fun with Zoom.  For example, you can use fun filters like on Instagram or Snapchat by installing this fun program described here on CNET.  I tried it and it works, but it can be a resource hog on your system.

Saturday Night Live had a great skit about and filmed entirely within Zoom from the SNL At Home show this past weekend hosted by Tom Hanks – a COVID survivor.  It’s out there for free on YouTube and here it is for you to enjoy! (Tom Hanks isn’t in the skit sadly, I could have used a cameo from David S Pumpkins!)

There’s many options for staying connected while we all practice social distancing and stay at home.  Now if only the weather would improve so I could fly some drones!

Snow Drones

Its almost time for the holiday break and I’m wrapping up projects.  One thing I’ve yet to do is take some cold weather video from a drone of campus covered in snow.  Yesterday on my drive to campus I couldn’t help but notice that it was beautiful with everything freshly covered in snow.  I was able to throw a flight plan together super quickly, get permission from BCC Security and the Pittsfield Airport to make sure policy was followed, and headed out about 1:30 to start my flight.

At first some snow squalls moving through delayed me.  And then the wind picked up, however I was still able to get in a brief flight and get some OK video.  It was also cold out, and one needs to take extra precautions when flying in the cold like making sure the battery is warm and stays at a warm temperature after takeoff.  Today is super cold compared to yesterday’s 20 degrees, so yesterday was my only opportunity.  Another thing that is suggested when flying in the snow is to hand-launch and hand-land to protect the craft from the snow, something I’ve gotten pretty good at with the Mavic Mini.

Here’s the full video.

The best portion is probably at about 6:25 where I get a combination of movements in the flight.  I hope to get more practice with cold weather flying in the future.

At a loss … so I plan!

Today is the first post since I started this project where I’m not really sure what to write about.  Lately I have been rather focused on flying drones especially with the new Mavic Mini.  I hope to get more flight time over the Thanksgiving break.  I also have my nephew’s computer to fix — fix maybe isn’t the right word because it never worked in the first place.  He tried to build it himself, but had never done it before.

I was able to do a little VR on the exercise bike today, 4.46 miles to be exact.  The annoying thing is that there was a 775MB update to install before I could even start, which was frustrating.  In the shower I had the thought to write a full review on the VirZOOM software, which I will likely do next week.  I do have some ideas on how it could be improved, however I want to check the forums the product has first as my ideas may not be new.  One of the things I do really like about the VirZOOM is that the developers seem to be very active and open to updates and suggestions from users.

So, just a few more days to go before the Thanksgiving break!