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Top 10 Epic Phail PC Technologies: Videoconferencing

Updated on May 25, 2009

To apply the vernacular of the modern online PC enthusiast: Videoconferencing is an Epic Phail. Why?

The illusion was certainly convincing. Why bother wasting precious days and heaping helpings of $100 bills commuting around the country and around the world (with the obligatory boring stultifying four hour stopover at either Chicago O'Hare or Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson... which is where you have to go to change planes when you die and go to heaven... or hell...) when you can just videoconference!

Sure! Let's do it! Just a couple of clicks and you can have the happy face of any of your colleagues, clients or suppliers on the screen where you can converse with all the informality and effectiveness of being in the same boardroom with them.

Everything about videoconferencing was perfect. Except it didn't take off. It has not as much as made a dent in the extent of business travel, with the collapsing economy and the "everyone with a boarding pass is a terrorist" security overbearance of airports taking a far greater toll on the amount of flying that business people do these days.

The reasons why videoconferencing is an Epic Phail are many and varied. First of all videoconferencing is still a hit and miss process. We have internet transmission dropouts, videoconferencing apps which are not coherent from one to the next and usually cannot communicate between them, a wide variety of webcams which are usually of such poor quality that the person on the screen talking to you might as well be a pixilated Daffy Duck, and personal computer microphones which for some reason that throughly escapes me, cannot possibly be engineered to pick up the sound of the person's voice primarily instead prominently featuring in their aural spectrum the jackhammer outside their window, the police siren down the block, or the sound of their coffee maker percolating away.

Besides, haven't we all been in the middle of a videoconference and gotten the most likely inaccurate impression that the person we're speaking with is avoiding eye contact? That is not necessarily due to any intent on the person's part, but the inherent parallax in most webcams provides an inaccurate focus point, so it usually looks like you're looking elsewhere.

Selfconsciousness also plays a big role in the Phailure of videoconferencing. It's one thing to sit in a room chatting away about this, that, or the other thing, but in a videoconference every single word, every motion, and every tick can be recorded for permanent posterity. Most people feel very uneasy when in front of a camera, whether it be for a one on one videoconference or if it's for national network television news, and the prospect of a post conference analysis of every tiny bit of the conversation can be quite unnerving.

To all those reasons let's add the very common problems of:

Audio isn't switched from handset to speaker
Endpoint of the conference is not dialed in
Equipment isn't plugged in right
Incorrect type of camera is selected
IP address is not input accurately
IP gateway isn't configured correctly
Speakers aren't turned up

and many many many more, including the most critical of all: the lack of a backup plan for continuing with the event when the almost inevitable connection or equipment problems crop up.

All those are very valid reasons why videoconferencing equals a very emphatic Epic Phail!

Continued in:

Top 10 Epic Phail PC Technologies: Virtual Reality

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    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto

      Thanks! :)

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Another great one!