Covid-19 response - help for those learning/working/playing from home

Posted on: March 23, 2020 - 10:10 By: dave

The NZOSS is pleased to make crucial online services available to those who, in response to Covid-19 management measures, are (sensibly) learning or working (or playing) from home! Below are only two useful tools from among our many open source online services.

All of these services are all available at no cost to you, on a best effort basis - our systems are very robust, thanks to hosting sponsored by CatalystCloud but all maintenance is performed by volunteer system administrators donating their time.

Users of these services must comply with our Code of Conduct.

Video conferencing - Big Blue Button

This is our instance of this full-featured open source video conferencing system - it's comparable in features and capability to proprietary tools like Zoom.

Big Blue Button is by far the most usable large-scale collaborative web-chat platform I have ever used. The system was capable of hosting over 12 people, presenting their video feeds flawlessly, and most amazingly allowing everyone to use distance microphones without creating echos or picking up too much ambient noise. The platform allows easy presentation, screen and content sharing, and switching of focus controlled by each participant. The tool clearly displays who is on mute, whose camera is on, and who has the current conversational focus. It provides a solid, stable, and usable answer to all of the major collaborative web platform issues I have thought of over the past 20 years

- Dr Donald Derrick, NZILBB

You can try out our "Community room" right now - you won't need to install any special software - just use a modern browser like Brave, Chrome, Chromium, or Firefox (we've been informed that Safari work s best on mobile Apple devices). Try it with someone else you know to give it a good test.

To get your own room just send an email to workfromhome@nzoss.nz and we'll send you an invite which will allow you to set up an account and manage up to 5 rooms. Each will have a web link you can send to participants, and you can configure the way your colleagues access it.

At this stage, we haven't stress tested it, but it should support a couple hundred simultaneous users. We're hoping all of you will help us work out those limits!

For those wanting commercially supported BigBlueButton services in NZ, and are happy to pay for it, this announcement on 2 April by Catalyst IT will be of interest (n.b. the NZOSS counts Catalyst as a contributing member of its community, but has no pecuniary interests in it)...

We also strongly recommend you read and follow this excellent local guide to video conferencing etiquette.

 

Chat rooms - Rocket.Chat

Just go to go https://chat.nzoss.nz in your browser to use this superb open source chat system - similar to Slack or Microsoft Teams, but hosted here in NZ. Your data isn't being mined, nor your privacy infringed up, nor your data stored overseas. And you won't be forced to pay us to access it in future.

The system allows you to exchange messages with other people in your office or beyond. Have a look in our #general channel or hang out in #social, and there's a specific #workingfromhome channel for people in your situation to ask questions and compare notes with others in a similar situation.

If you like the look of the chat, you can request a channel for you and your colleagues to talk privately - and you can always have one-on-one private discussions with other users.

You don't need to install any special software, just visit it in a modern web browser like Chromium, Chrome, or Firefox. If you prefer, there are desktop and mobile applications available for download at https://rocket.chat/install

User documentation is at https://rocket.chat/docs.

 

Kia kaha! And have fun!