Area Groups and Zoom

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Will L
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Area Groups and Zoom

Postby Will L » Thu Nov 19, 2020 12:44 pm

I have a question about the use of Zoom to support Online Area Group meetings and I'm hopeing somebody out there will be knowledgeable enough to provide a few answers.

We in the Crewe Area Group (CAG), having failed to meet for months, partly but not entirely because of the GCP* decided to try an online meeting. It was a success, as already documented here, so we have decided to go virtual for our monthly meetings. I know we are not the only ones.

The tool of choice appears to be Zoom. This is a commercially available video conferencing tool for which businesses, who wish to originate such meetings, pay for a license. Individuals attend such meetings at no cost to themselves. It is also possible for individuals to obtain a free license and originate their own meetings, so long as you are prepared to put up with certain restrictions, and much of the country is using exactly this to get together with family and friends.

Other organisations have got on the band wagon, our local church holds Zoom services for instance, as well as some clubs and societies organising online meetings both locally and nationally.

The key difference between a paid for license and a free one is that, on a free license any meeting with more than 2 attendees will end automatically after 40 minutes. There are more differences relating to the facilitates available and max number of attendees but it is the time limit that has the most obvious impact. In practice it is perfectly possible to start a new meeting as soon as the last one stops, which everybody can re-join, but there is a element of organisational faff about doing it.

An alternative is to borrow a paid for license and many people are able to do exactly that, bearing in mind that one license will only support one meeting at a time.. The CAG is not able to reliably call on such a favour

The cost of a license is currently around £12 a month. Our members were of the view that when attending our traditional meetings, we would collectively spend more than that on petrol and biscuit money. Therefore, we were minded to buy a license, even though it would only be used for a few hours a month.

If we did purchase such a license it seemed reasonable that we should think about sharing it (and possibly the cost) with other likeminded people, such as other Area Groups. However, having read Zoom’s Ts & Cs I'm still unclear of the practicability of doing that, particularly if the license holder does not wish to attend the meeting being organised. The license holder appears to be identified my email address.

Before anybody suggests that I put this idea our Society Committee, I already have. They are currently in the "able to borrow" category for their own meetings and feel there are technical, organisational, financial and probably administrative reasons why they don't want to be involved at the moment.

Can anybody who knows Zoom well explain what the implications would be of trying to have one license, owned by an individual rather than an organisation, which can be used by a number of groups?



*GCP - Great Covid Pandemic which, as any conspiracy theorist worth his salt will realise, was wished into existence by the GCG (Great Carpet God) as a way to increase the number of sacrificial offerings that would come his way.

Philip Hall
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Re: Area Groups and Zoom

Postby Philip Hall » Thu Nov 19, 2020 1:36 pm

I know of three or four people who have a paid for license, but on each occasion the license holder is either at the meeting or in the host house whilst it is being held, by a partner when the other half holds the license for example.

I have had a word with our church Zoom organiser, and he tells me that so long as the Zoom credentials are shared it can work. It’s based on an email address, which is also used as the Zoom username, and then there is a separate password for the account. So long as you are happy to share all these details it’s OK. Once set up and shared the borrower(s) will always have that access, so be aware of that. The borrower doesn’t need to have access to your email account, it’s just part of the credentials. That email address will however always receive the bills for the Zoom account. What our Methodist Church Circuit has done is to set up a separate email address and password for the Zoom account, and then give a few individuals access to it. Obviously only one meeting can be held at a time. That might work for CAG as if the group organiser changes from time to time details can also easily be passed on.

Whilst it can be done, it seems to me that if you have (say) 12 members paying £1 a month for the license, it’s probably not worth the hassle of trying to share it. With luck you might not need it for more than a year (or so?!) but the other thing to consider is that your attendances might go up so the cost will go down.

As an example, I belong to the Ocean Liner Society, and we had monthly meetings in London before the pandemic, with attendances of between 15 & 25 people. Since we have been using Zoom, those attendances have rocketed to over 60. We have also drawn them from the USA, Germany and Australia (that bloke got up very early in the morning!) but interestingly, many people who had previously found it impractical to get up to London for an early evening meeting, even fairly closely situated, have also been able to attend.

Hope this helps, I think I’ve got it right, but I’m no expert!

Philip

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Guy Rixon
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Re: Area Groups and Zoom

Postby Guy Rixon » Thu Nov 19, 2020 1:44 pm

Using the free account, once the initial 40 minutes ends, the meeting host is able to log back in and revive the meeting, such that the others can rejoin within a few minutes. It doesn't seem to require re-inviting the participants.

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Tim V
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Re: Area Groups and Zoom

Postby Tim V » Thu Nov 19, 2020 1:46 pm

In Bristol we have weekly Zoom meetings. We tried the paid for version, but decided to keep with the free version. Starting a new meeting was not such a 'faf' as you imply, and saves a bit of money.
Tim V
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Tim V
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Re: Area Groups and Zoom

Postby Tim V » Thu Nov 19, 2020 1:47 pm

On W10 have you seen the new 'Meet me' icon on the taskbar? Uses Skype - which is an alternative to Zoom.

I find the new 'features' of W10 to be an annoyance ...
Tim V
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David B
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Re: Area Groups and Zoom

Postby David B » Thu Nov 19, 2020 1:59 pm

Our local U3A group has a license and the organisers of various interest groups are using it to hold regular meetings with interested people. It has worked very well and simply, so I don't understand the Committee's reluctance, mentioned by Will, to aid Area Groups. It would seem to me to be a good use of Society funds to support AGs in this way. There are possibilities for widening the scope of meetings and inviting people from distant regions to participate, even to give talks and demonstrations. Perhaps more people, currently not able to get to AGs for various reasons, could be included.

Some of us are taking part in a meeting with members in Australia fairly soon. We had a very good chat on the morning of the virtual Scaleforum.

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Re: Area Groups and Zoom

Postby allanferguson » Thu Nov 19, 2020 2:08 pm

I don't think of myself as an expert, but I am the licence holder for our branch of the University of the Third Age. The licence cost us approx £140 back in July, but I understand that renewal next July will cost us approx £120. We have about a dozen groups who use the licence for their meetings. They can have up to 100 members and there is in theory no time limitation on the meetings. In practice, as only one meeting can take place at one time, all meetings are booked through me, and I maintain a register of bookings to avoid conflict. Nominally I am chairman for all the meetings, but when I make the bookings I tick the box that the chairman need not be present, and that the meetings are open for anyone with the necessary password to walk in. I take no part in the proceedings, and I therefore don't use the chairman's privilege of, e.g. muting an individual. Meetings are conducted in the ordinary way, with a chairman in control, and members raising a hand when they wish to speak, and otherwise muting themselves. A certain amount of self discipline is necessary, as several people speaking at once becomes unmanageable quicker than in an ordinary meeting, All members present can use "share screen" to show presentations (or anything else) and in practice many of those who do presentations use Powerpoint, which works well. It is not really practicable to change the chairman during the meeting, though it has been done. For me, I have the responsibility of making and recording bookings, which can get a bit irksome. It has been very much a learning experience for all -- not least me, but it seems to work reasonably well.
It does depend on everyone having a reasonable internet connection, particularly if the numbers exceed 20 or so, and this can be a problem in this part of the country. Also there will always be some members who have difficulty with the system; who point the camera at the ceiling; who forget to unmute themselves, etc. There is a learning curve, but by the time lockdown finishes we'll all be expert. In another context, our Local S4 group has members in West Wales and New york, and they much appreciate the Zoom meetings!

Allan F

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David Thorpe
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Re: Area Groups and Zoom

Postby David Thorpe » Thu Nov 19, 2020 4:19 pm

I agree with Guy and Tim. Our group has been having fortnightly Zoom meetings since April, we have always used the free version and we always start a new meeting immediately after the first one finishes on 40 minutes. There is no organisational faff; the host merely starts the meeting again, the others apply to join just as they did at the beginning, and everything's up and running again after a minute or two. The meetings are most enjoyable and I'm sure our group would be happy to stump up for a licence if necessary, but it isn't so we don't.

DT

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dcockling
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Re: Area Groups and Zoom

Postby dcockling » Thu Nov 19, 2020 5:13 pm

David B wrote:I don't understand the Committee's reluctance, mentioned by Will, to aid Area Groups.


An interesting slant David.

The Committee do not have a 'reluctance to aid Area Groups'

We have been advised that if a Committee member were to set up a paid for account which, as has been noted, would be tied to a specific e-mail address and then shared the account details with various other people, we would be in breach of Zoom's terms and conditions.

What we have is a reluctance, as an organization, to be in breach of Zoom's terms and conditions.

The cost of a paid for account depends on whether it is a monthly or anuually billed account. £14.39/month or £11.99/month (including VAT)

The Society could reimburse Area Groups for the cost but how much? Some or all? And would this be a reasonable use of Society resources?

For ten area groups (the society could claim back the VAT) the cost would be £1199.00/annum, for twenty area groups £2398.00/annum, or for all 46 area groups £5515.40/annum, or should Area Group members make a contribution themselves thereby lowering the overall cost to the Society were we to decide that the provision of a Society contribution towards the cost of providing Zoom accounts to area groups would be a good use of Society resources?

All the Best
Danny

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David B
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Re: Area Groups and Zoom

Postby David B » Thu Nov 19, 2020 5:36 pm

So, are these U3A groups in breach of Zoom's terms? Why does Zoom make it possible for someone to delegate the running of a meeting? There are contradictions here.

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John Donnelly
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Re: Area Groups and Zoom

Postby John Donnelly » Thu Nov 19, 2020 6:20 pm

Zoom's Terms of Service contain this line:

"You may not offer or enable any third parties to use the Services purchased by You"

I suspect that if the purchaser of a licence were to share their details with a member of another area group so that area group can then use that licence, it's the line above that they would fall foul of.

Thinking of Zoom in terms of more traditional software, if you bought a licence for, let's say, Microsoft Office then you can just go sharing that licence with other people for them to be able to use the software as well.

IMO.

John

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John McAleely
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Re: Area Groups and Zoom

Postby John McAleely » Thu Nov 19, 2020 6:33 pm

In addition to the cost, here's the volunteer work the society needs to have a 'society zoom account':

allanferguson wrote: We have about a dozen groups who use the licence for their meetings. They can have up to 100 members and there is in theory no time limitation on the meetings. In practice, as only one meeting can take place at one time, all meetings are booked through me, and I maintain a register of bookings to avoid conflict.


I provided the advice to committee Danny quoted above, so I'll participate in this thread that basis.

There are two issues:

- breach of Zoom T&Cs (we can all decide our own appetites for that, especially during a pandemic, and especially as Zoom provide features that arguably encourage such behaviour)

- The work Allan describes above, for organising his ~12 groups. We have, as Danny notes, a reasonable expectation to offer a credible plan for around ~50 groups (add on people zooming during show organisation and the committee itself etc to the 46 area groups).

Let's all ignore the T&C issue. Who's volunteering to be Allan for the Scalefour Society? And, given that area groups can self organise around free accounts (see multiple contributions above), who thinks being that volunteer is a good use of their volunteer time?

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John McAleely
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Re: Area Groups and Zoom

Postby John McAleely » Thu Nov 19, 2020 6:45 pm

I'll offer another thought. There's no reason to fixate on Zoom. In addition to Zoom my own lockdown experience includes WhatsApp, Teams, Google Meet, Facebook Messenger, and FaceTime.

Some of those are actually free for all. The only 'work' is to convince your fellow participants to use the same system (I imagine similar work was required to agree meeting halls and pubs pre-pandemic).

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Paul Willis
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Re: Area Groups and Zoom

Postby Paul Willis » Thu Nov 19, 2020 7:39 pm

John McAleely wrote:I'll offer another thought. There's no reason to fixate on Zoom. In addition to Zoom my own lockdown experience includes WhatsApp, Teams, Google Meet, Facebook Messenger, and FaceTime.


Webex, BlueJeans... I forget the one that the Bank of England uses... It's "rather formal" as you would expect of an organisation that still greets visitors with men in pink tailcoats.

There is a lot of choice out there.

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Paul
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Rod Cameron
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Re: Area Groups and Zoom

Postby Rod Cameron » Thu Nov 19, 2020 10:23 pm

DRAG's treasurer acquired a Zoom licence and hosts our meetings. The licence was paid for from group funds, which are healthy having accumulated a surplus from our weekly subs for physical meetings. So essentially we have already paid for it.
Rod

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David Thorpe
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Re: Area Groups and Zoom

Postby David Thorpe » Fri Nov 20, 2020 10:40 am

I can understand, and support, the Society's reluctance to breach Zoom's T&Cs.

So that leaves three choices: first, the Society can pay out several thousand pounds every year to obtain licences for those groups that do not wish to avail themselves of the free version of Zoom. As, IMO, the freee version is perfectly adequate for group meetings and, moreover, not all groups would want to avail themselves of the facility, I don't believe that this would be an appropriate use of Society funds.

Secondly, those groups that want a paid-for licence can get and pay for one themselves. If all group members were to contribute the monthly individual cost would be small. Other groups that are happy to use the free licence could continue to do so, as I'm sure our group will do.

Thirdly, there could be some element of sharing but that would clearly contravene Zoom's T&Cs and, moreover, would mean that only one meeting could be held at one time, which could lead to difficulties. I'm pretty sure that we wouldn't want to be part of that.

DT

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Re: Area Groups and Zoom

Postby Terry Bendall » Fri Nov 20, 2020 12:30 pm

If areas groups want to meet using a web based hosting service then surely that if up to them to sort and and meet the costs. That way there is no breach of any Ts and Cs that may be in place and those who want to do it meet the cost which seems reasonable to me. Not everyone will want to met this way and those who have a poor internet connection would not be able to so anyway so why spend Society finds on something that not everyone can take up?

Terry Bendall

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John McAleely
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Re: Area Groups and Zoom

Postby John McAleely » Fri Nov 20, 2020 12:40 pm

Perhaps of interest:

"Microsoft Teams takes on Zoom with free all-day video calling on the web"
https://www.theverge.com/2020/11/20/215 ... ompetition

Relevant quotes:

"While the software giant launched Microsoft Teams for consumers on mobile earlier this year, it’s now bringing Teams’ friends and family features to the desktop and web allowing you to create a Microsoft Teams meeting for up to 300 friends and family that can run all day free of charge"

"You won’t need a Microsoft Account or the Microsoft Teams app to join calls, as you can join free via a web browser. Microsoft Teams will also support seeing up to 49 friends or family members in a gallery view or through its Together Mode feature that puts you side by side in a virtual environment."

Worth looking in to: https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/microso ... s-for-home

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Will L
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Re: Area Groups and Zoom

Postby Will L » Sat Nov 21, 2020 2:37 pm

Having run this rabbit, it only seems fair that I pull together what has been said and, dare I, suggest a direction. A big thank you to all who bothered to reply.

Is Zoom the only Tool

Clearly not. While WhatsApp, Messenger and Facetime could be used free they are not really designed for large groups nor do they have the sort of facilities designed to help run an online meeting. My family talks to each other this way.

Zoom, Teams(nee Skyp), Google Meet(nee Hangouts), (all of which I have used) Webex, Blue Jeans and one or two more that I have found but have not used are the real deal. The point is that they are all aimed at making money out of organisations. Some but not all offer limited free access and where they do the restrictions are similar. It is true that Teams is offering free unlimited meetings at the moment but I think we ca be fairly sure that this will stop when it has a bit more market share. What peeves me is that they don’t offer some sort of a full licence deal to existing paid up Office 365 personal customers.

Anyway, for the purpose of what follows I’ll say Zoom but I could mean any of these.

Licensing

Unlike software packages/ phone aps which you install on you own machine, and are licensed for use on that devise. With zoom you are licensing a service provided by a remote bit of software. The entity that purchase that licences could be an individual but, given who they are aimed at, could equally well be an organisation/business/society. They recognise this in they way they sell bundles of licenses to allow parallel meetings. So while they might (but probably won’t) take exception to an individual allowing others to use their license, I think they would have problem objecting to a organizational owner allowing any member of their organisation to use the license.

How to run a sharing system.

I think Phil and Alan had this about right see their contributions above.

The Real Issue


The best reason I can think of for not having a licence sharing scheme is that it would need somebody to administer it. You will note I’m not volunteering here.

Other considerations

As it happens, I am well aware of how to run serial time limited free Zoom sessions, and left to me CAG would work that way, it was the rest of the membership that suggested otherwise. If you start each reiteration of the meeting with your assigned personal ID rather than a randomly generated one, the other members can use the same link/meeting details of each reiteration, and no that isn’t that much faff.

The other real advantage to using a paid for license is the additional features made available, in particular, it allows anybody in the meeting to share pictures with the meeting.

Our Virtual Scaleforum does appear to have been a success, and personally I feel that there may be a valid space in the world for more of the same, even when traditional exhibitions are possible again. I did think, should we do another one, demonstrations could have been better run as meetings. Then there is of also the whole question of the AGM. Just a thought.

nigelcliffe
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Re: Area Groups and Zoom

Postby nigelcliffe » Sat Nov 21, 2020 5:16 pm

A small technical point

The other real advantage to using a paid for license is the additional features made available, in particular, it allows anybody in the meeting to share pictures with the meeting.


The free "lasts 40 minutes" version of Zoom will let anyone share pictures, or other screen content. But the meeting owner has to enable the setting each time the meeting starts. That change was done around April (give or take) because of "zoom bombing" when folk joined meetings and screen-shared offensive material. So, setting exists and its down to meeting owner to decide the meeting participants are "sensible adults" before allowing all to screen-share.



- Nigel

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Will L
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Re: Area Groups and Zoom

Postby Will L » Sun Nov 22, 2020 4:32 pm

nigelcliffe wrote:A small technical point

The other real advantage to using a paid for license is the additional features made available, in particular, it allows anybody in the meeting to share pictures with the meeting.


The free "lasts 40 minutes" version of Zoom will let anyone share pictures, or other screen content. But the meeting owner has to enable the setting each time the meeting starts. That change was done around April (give or take) because of "zoom bombing" when folk joined meetings and screen-shared offensive material. So, setting exists and its down to meeting owner to decide the meeting participants are "sensible adults" before allowing all to screen-share.


So you can, but it was a b****** to find.


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