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Tag: Skype

Solve your conference call woes with this one insane tip! Never lean your head weirdly in front of a laptop camera again. FINALLY.

The issue:

During a conference call, it can be difficult to position multiple people in such a way that everyone is actually in-frame.

Usually, either:

  1. Only one person fits into the frame, or:
  2. Everyone is extremely far from the camera, so 95% of the screen area is taken up by a conference table.

Figure 1 illustrates this common scenario.


Fig. 1: When multiple people are sharing a laptop during a conference call, usually the video looks like the example on right, where only one person is actually fully visible.


An inexpensive prism can fix this problem once and for all (Figure 2). A prism can be placed directly in front of the camera to split the image into multiple horizontally-spaced parts.

Now everyone can participate in the conference call without needing to move the camera around!


Fig. 2: The prism attachment makes it easy to fit everyone into frame. The prism could attach to the camera by means of either a magnetic clip or some sort of suction cup (probably the best solution for laptop screens).

PROS: Encourages conference call participation by people other than whoever happens to be directly in front of the camera.

CONS: Might result in an unflattering “fun house mirror” effect in the final image. (Although this could be fixed in software, or by a more complicated prism setup.)

Travel almost for FREE with this one weird tip! One insane way to reduce your spending on airline tickets now.

The issue:

Travel to exotic locales can be expensive, inconvenient, and perhaps even dangerous or impossible.


Using the same technology that companies like Google use to get street view images (now available in 40-lb backpack format as well: https://www.google.com/search?tbm=isch&sa=1&q=google+street+view+camera ), we can set up a scenario where you can conduct tourism by proxy using a VR headset.

This would work as follows:

  • You submit a request online, like “I’d like to see the pyramids of Giza.”
  • Someone who is already in the vicinity accepts your request. You pay them and they put on a panoramic street view camera.
  • You then call them up and perform the VR equivalent of a Skype / FaceTime / Hangouts call.
  • The tour guide will either walk around on their own, or perhaps take requests from the remote viewer.


Fig. 1: This fashionable individual in a VR headset is standing comfortably at home while getting a VR tour of Egyptian pyramids, which is directed by the person in Figure 2.


Fig. 2: This “VR tour guide” is carrying the cameras and microphones so that the individual in Figure 1 can get an immersive real-time VR tour of the pyramids.


Fig. 3: In addition to enabling extremely lazy travelers, VR tours could be used to experience otherwise difficult or impossible environments.

Eco-friendly final point:

This technology would also reduce the amount of energy expended on travel (particularly via airplane), which both saves fuel and also reduces the number of greenhouse gasses generated.

PROS: Saves time, money, and the environment.

CONS: Might negatively impact revenue at certain difficult-to-access tourist destinations like Machu Picchu.

Save hours on any teleconferenced meeting with this one weird tip that will drive you to the brink of gibbering insanity!

Background & The Issue In Question:

Teleconferencing can be a useful tool. However, it can also make it easy to schedule endless meetings where 90% of the participants have nothing to do.

Unfortunately, it is often the case where these additional participants are obligated to be on the call for various reasons.

Proposal: Proxy meeting attendees

The basic idea is to hire a person to pretend to be you during the conference.

Obviously, there is a problem here, in that the proxy will not sound the same as you (unless you happen to sound exactly like a robot).

But it can still be arranged so that no one is the wiser. First, the theoretically-intended teleconference attendee must record a series of audio clips of them saying common things. For example:

  • “This is YOUR_NAME, I’m on the call.” Note: do not actually say the literal word “YOUR_NAME” or the gig will be up.
  • “I agree.”
  • “Great idea, boss.”
  • “Fantastic idea, boss.”
  • “That’s the best idea I’ve heard in a while, boss.”
  • “Ok.”
  • “Uh-huh.”
  • “Yep.”
  • “Yup.”
  • “Yeap.”
  • “Yerp.”
  • “Yarp.”

This set of audio clips is then hooked up to a soundboard (a keyboard—probably a virtual one—where each keypress plays a specific audio clip), which the proxy can use to respond to questions on your behalf. See Figure 1.


Fig 1: Generally, most responses can be short and agreeable. The soundboard sample above contains only four of the possible dozens of things that the meeting attendance proxy can say.

There is one serious problem: it is unlikely, but the person who is being represented by the proxy may be asked a difficult question that the proxy has no way to reply to.

To solve this situation, we will add a “panic button” to the soundboard. This button will play a prerecorded message indicating that there is an emergency situation requiring disconnection from the conference call.

The proxy will then notify the actual attendee (who is presumably on standby for just such a situation). Then the actual attendee can call right back in and answer the question correctly.


Fig 2: If there’s some question that your teleconference-proxy can’t field, the proxy will press the panic button (labeled with a “?”) to disconnect with a pre-recorded socially-appropriate message (“Oh, I’m losing my connection.” “Dang, a crocodile is chewing on my leg.” etc…).


This is a great idea that will improve the lives of both the office workers in question and the call-center employees who will work as proxies.

PROS: This proposal could save over a billion hours of meeting time every year, allowing office workers to view over 100 billion additional cat videos per year, and possibly contributing to the GDP due to the increased ad revenue on those cat videos.

CONS: Results not guaranteed. May result in job loss.