Zoom audio oddity

In a recent session, we encountered an as-yet unexplained problem with audio in a Zoom session.

The presenter used PowerPoint with embedded video clips. The audio in the clips could not be heard by many, perhaps most of the attendees. Audio from the presenter and other attendees was fine.

Although the Zoom version used by the presenter was a few months old (December 21, 2020 version 5.4.7 (59784.1220), there was no detectable pattern regarding who could hear the audio or not. Some with older and newer versions could not hear the audio, others could. Most people were using the Windows client. (Details may not be significant here.)

Unfortunately, there was no recording of the session.

So far, we’re exploring a few threads. None of these seem compelling, but we need to start somewhere.

  • The presenter was using an unencrypted session (for reasons yet to be determined).
  • The videos were both a series of pictures with an audio overlay and some downloaded, unedited YouTube clips.
  • Verifying that the presenter had the Share computer sound checked when screen sharing.


It works in practice, but not in theory.

We met with the presenter today. Audio from movies and YouTube was garbled and then nothing, video was jerky. Observers were on Windows and Mac. The presenter switched from his laptop to desktop. The desktop machine is a bit older. Don’t have the specs on either machine.

Audio and video worked fine on the desktop. We have something that works, even though we don’t have an explanation of why some attendees in the previous session could hear the audio, while others couldn’t.

I’ll take something that works over something that’s explainable any day.

“science is a social phenomenon”

An opinion piece in Scientific American, We Need Social Science, Not Just Medical Science, to Beat the Pandemic, reminds us that public health measures rely heavily on trust and community spirit. Science is necessarily incomplete because it’s continuously testing its findings against additional facts. Our general ability to adapt are much slower, often trailing the changes in scientific discovers by decades. For example, half of what we knew about hepatitis and liver disease 45 years ago has been superseded. Not knowing which half is obsolete can be deadly.


MacBooks and headphones

Apple discontinued the 3.5mm headphone jack and headphones in 2016, first changing to lighting ports and, soon, none at all.

Meanwhile, the new M1 MacBook has the aforementioned 3.5mm jack and one USB-C (MacBook Air) or two (MacBook Pro) port(s). Lucky, I kept an old set of headphones with a microphone in my briefcase. (Because of COVID, I haven’t gone any place where I needed to bring my briefcase in more than a year.)

One more instance that justifies my practice of throwing away little.


Found this on the floor.

If I throw it away, how soon will I realize that it was important.

If I don’t throw it away, will I ever need it?

Why Bernie Sanders needs to talk about race

The Supreme Court didn’t decide the election in 2000. Neither did Ralph Nader steal votes from the Democrats. Al Gore lost because he benched the best campaigner, Bill Clinton.

Gore was embarrassed by Clinton’s sexual misadventures and so didn’t have him campaign in traditional Democratic strongholds. The voter turnout was low enough in key states, such as Florida, that the race was close. It didn’t need to be close.

In a general election, Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton don’t have to win votes from Donald Trump, Scott Walker, or any of the core Republican candidates. They have to energize their disaffected constituencies – minorities and young people in particular. If  black voters aren’t excited about Bernie, they’re not going to switch to any Republican in any significant numbers; they’re going to stay home. If Hillary can’t engage young people, they’re not going to vote for Marco Rubio in any significant numbers; they’re going to stay home.

Sanders has charmed the white liberals and made the campaign for the 2016 nomination interesting. If he is the nominee (largely because Clinton stumbles), most of the Clinton supporters will have little trouble voting for him. That, however, isn’t enough to win the election. He needs enthusiasm in the black community. So far, as noted by Clive McFarland, he’s embarrassingly unprepared.

There are some moderate, undecided voters who will study each candidate and make a choice on election day. I wish that the election was about winning their hearts and minds. Sadly, though, their numbers won’t matter compared the bigger impact of each part energizing its natural constituency.

The election will be decide more by who doesn’t vote than by who does.

I was the egg man

For most of my early working life, I was a short-order cook.

The biggest technical advancement in my era was the addition of a microwave oven,  one of those big units with a label warning people with pacemakers to keep their distance.

If you haven’t already discovered it, eggs will explode inside a microwave. There are a few ways to make this not happen, but none that made cooking an egg faster or better than on a grill or in a pot of boiling water.

EggMaster in action

Nevertheless, gadget-makers continue to try to improve egg cooking. As this article from The Guardian shows, they’ve yet to make much progress. The device produces “…without warning, a flaccid, spongy log half jumps from the machine, writhing like an alien parasite in search of a host body.”

The article links to Amazon UK. American readers can find a similar product on Amazon in the good, old US of A.

Amazon: where children never grow old

We’ve been buying books on Amazon for a long time. Some of our earliest purchases were the Spot series of kids’ books.

spotWe bought these books when our grandkids were young. The youngest is now 10 and getting older by doubles every day.

Nevertheless, Amazon believes that children never get older and we will always need Spot books.

good.night.spotWould that it were so.



Worcester Chamber of Commerce seeks delay on paid sick day law

Although the Worcester Chamber of Commerce is adamant that businesses contact their representatives to delay implementation of the paid sick-leave law, they don’t post a link to the proposed regulations that must be reviewed or the public comment sessions.

Here’s what the Chamber has to say: Paid Sick Day Law Goes Into Effect July 1 – Chamber Seeks Member Assistance to Delay

It is extremely the important that we seek a delay in implementation. Please contact your legislators and ask them to support a delay.

The Chamber provides plenty of information about each representative, including email, phone, and mailing address.

Here’s the link to the Attorney General’s proposed regulations for Earned Sick Time and schedule for hearings.