Zoom Announces Lifting of 40 Minute Limit for Thanksgiving

As the holidays near now-household known tech/communication company Zoom is already feeling the giving spirit as they announced they are doing away with the meeting time limit of its free meetings for Thanksgiving so virtual family gatherings won’t be interrupted.

On Thanksgiving day, Nov. 26 2020, the 40-minute limit on its free minutes will be lifted globally.

Without the pandemic Zoom probably would remain in the realm of business-only instead of being not only a household name, but a tool that everyday people are using to connect with friends and family.

The platform wasn’t being particularly stingy with it’s 40 minute limit on free meetings as users could simply and quickly just start up another meeting at no cost. Between this and ease of use Zoom is the popular choice among students, teachers and families for group video conferencing.

Paid annual plans are in the $150-$200 range for unlimited meeting minutes making it even more affordable than many cellphone plans (assuming on already has an internet connection and a Zoom capable device).

Without speculating on the duration of the pandemic, many believe that Zoom style education, family interaction and business will remain in the popular domain even after life gets back to normal.

 

 

Why Are People Still Using Zoom?

Since the last time we mentioned Zoom, it seems there have been alerts put out there asking people to stop using it. There are numerous problems with it. Sure, it is probably the easiest meeting software for non-technical people to use but the security is what has people up in arms.

So what is the problem? There are a few. Even last summer they found there was software used to bypass security to be able to launch it in a few clicks. This also makes it easy for hackers to start webcams and watch users without them knowing. The other bad thing is this bug remained even after the user uninstalls Zoom. Apple has removed this component by issuing a force-deployed update to every Mac in the world.

There are other things. Zoom can use your private video calls and sell ads. What if you are using Zoom to speak with your therapist? What kind of ads will they be marketing?

Another thing that was “fixed” was the fact that Zoom was sending user info to Facebook. That has since been fixed in an update.

To see more about this:
OneZero.medium.com
Tidbits.com

Here is a light-hearted parody of the Zoom security issues:

Some Ways Covid-19 has Changed the World

There are too many ways to count how this pandemic has changed the world. Here in America, it is like life has come to a stand-still. Many establishments are closed including schools, churches, libraries, dine-in restaurants, to name a few. Sometimes while we wallow in our own self-pity, we forget how it is affecting others, especially children, teenagers, and college students who are missing once in a lifetime milestones. We want to talk about how tech can be used to help.

First, the high school seniors are missing out on prom. Some have taken the initiative to try to have a virtual prom on Instagram or TikTok.

One college in Japan is holding their graduation via robots. The robots, dressed in cap and gown, have the students faces via Zoom showing their faces where the robot faces would be.

Our church has been able to bring services weekly during this crisis by keeping band members at least 6 feet apart. We were streaming every week anyway so we had everything in place for this to begin with. Our small groups have all moved to using online virtual meetings using software such as Webex or Zoom.

There are also new cautions about using Zoom. You need to make sure your settings are set up correctly as it could be hacked. Meetings are being “Zoombombed” and intruders putting in awful posts and images.

Zoom vs Skype vs Webex

We need to follow our government orders and stay at home. Many of us are fortunate enough be able to work from home, some already having been working remotely. Some of us already have some favorite tools to use. I only need a chat program but a lot of them have gone by the wayside: AIM, Googletalk, Yahoo messenger, Windows Live messenger, to name a few. ICQ is still around but who can stand “UH OH” every time a message comes in? Some messengers come with many more tools such as Slack.

Some groups or workforces need to have meetings where everyone can be in on the call. With the Covid-19 pandemic people are looking for ways to meet. Most people these days are using Zoom. ZDNet saw the trend of people using Zoom and did an informal survey to find out why people were Zooming and not Skyping.

Here is what they found out:

It seems that Zoom is easier to use, especially for non-technical people.

Next, they found people found Skype buggy, especially the apps.

Third issue was spam. Unless you have your settings locked down, you will be contacted by a lot of people you don’t know, or people trying to sell or get you to do something.

Webex, by Cisco, is a little trickier for some to use. They recently enhanced their free tier to allow up to 100 participants in each meeting instead of 50; they have allowed the meetings to be as long as you want up from 40 minute limit.

Some organizations that have regular meetings, like Bible studies or other meetings have had to find alternate ways to meet. Personally, we have tried Skype but as mentioned above, there were too many issues. We have moved to Webex ourselves.

I have not personally used Zoom but have signed up on their site and it does look very easy to use for small meetings. Zoom has up to 100 participants in a meeting, 40 minute limits but unlimited number of meetings. There are plans that cost money for each of the video conferencing software programs with added features like cloud storage, recording transcriptions, numbers of users, ways to connect, for example.

Charges are usually per host. So if you have one lead person hosting each meeting, that will be the only charge. Webex charges go from $13.50/month to $26.95/month. Zoom paid plans start at $14.99/month to $19.99/month/host minimum 10 hosts or 50 hosts for the business plan. Skype is free up to 50 people for video calls.

ZDNET article