Drop the Google Hangouts?


Hi guys,

Our last Google Hangout has got the following comment with 5 upvotes:

I would have loved to hear what he had to say but the audio was so poor
that after four minutes I had to give up listening.  I had only
understood a few isolated words and had no idea what was being
discussed. Is there any way a transcript or summary could be published?

This is a fair point. I don’t think we can afford the time it takes to do a Hangout if it’s only useful to a tiny minority of people with the patience to suffer the poor AV quality.

I think if the Hangouts were more interactive I’d like them better (i.e. we could have actual discussions) - they’re a wee bit stilted since they’re monologues. If they’re to continue we really need to fix the AV or they’re worse than pointless. But that aside, I think the mailing list is a better resource if you want detailed info and useful, real-time status updates.

So should we maybe drop them altogether? Or are our careers as youtubers just beginning?


I missed yesterdays hangout, but watched it today. I still like the effort and it does add to the mailinglist, at least from our pint of view: we have faces and voices to attach to the names. But it is also true that it requires full unbroken attention to decipher the audio stream. Maybe just more small group video chats on particular issues as they arise on the mailinglist?


As someone who works in entertainment, #1 priority is sound, #2 is content, #3 is video. It seems counter-intuitive, but that tends to be the way it works.

That said, keep doing the videos. It serves multiple purposes. It’s interesting content for the people who follow the project on that level. It’s a huge boost in marketing because you’re building content, and as they say, content is king. And it projects an air of openness and honesty to the community, even if 5 people watch it.

I’d say, drop a few hundred bucks, mic the room. if you’re always in the same workspace, then it’s easy. If you’re moving a lot, find a few mics that can clip to the table. If you’re willing to make the effort, whoever is the center of attention gets a wireless lav. After 3 videos you’ll have the system down. Otherwise, you just set up one camera pointed at the action and beyond that, you’re good to go.

You could do the whole setup for a few hundred bucks. And with your new-found wealth from the sale, I think it’s worth dropping a bit of that on something that produces a professional image.

That’s my two cents.


Okay, just watched the video, and you’re gonna want to do one of two things. Lav him, or put some padding up in that room to absorb the sound.

Those Snowball mics are cardioids, so you’re supposed to be within a few inches of them. They’re more for radioshow and podcast material, and even then they’re a little dodgy.

My first suggestion is get a lavalier microphone on him, wireless if you can drop the money. Then, you should be able to just plug that directly into the laptop (I presume we’re just looking at a laptop feed).

The other possibility, as I mentioned, is put up some foam padding to absorb the echo in the room. It can be pricey, but its a one time thing. That actually might help a lot.

You wouldn’t need to do both, just one or the other. Just that small jump in quality will go miles.


Sounds like you know your stuff - thanks for sharing.

I’ve just spent the last 5 minutes Googling cardioids and lavalier. I think David would benefit from the older style lavalier microphone :smile:

We’re using an oldish desktop Mac for the recordings. We do have a couple of wee digital camcorders, so I’m sure we can improve drastically on the video. But I agree that the sound is way more important.

I think we went for the current mic because there is usually more than one person involved in discussions/presentations at our end. Do you have any suggestions on that front? Should we be looking at something like this?


I’m trying to listen right now.

Better audio would certainly be helpful :smile:


I watched the whole thing and think I’ve watched all the hangouts in full so far.

Yes audio is the main issue, and I’ve noticed that the same person can by crystal clear, or unintelligable: at different times in the same video, and in different videos.

In the last video, I could hear everyone very clearly except Viv, and he was understandable part of the time, but I was always straining. It looked like he was too far away from the mike, although I’m aware that Page (?) who was out of shot, was significantly clearer, but seemed further away from the mic than Viv. So distance is not the only problem. I think Fraser and Page (sorry if I’m misspelling) were taking more time oiver words, as well as being louder and clearer in speech.

I think the main problem is that you guys have no feedback from listeners, so while Viv was close to the mic / clearer at times, we couldn’t “shout from the back” to ask for something to be repeated, or to speak up etc.

If it was two way, I think it would become manageable. Better mic etc could help a lot, but when things aren’t right you could still end up with this problem.

I don’t know if there’s a way to have at least one remote person monitoring and feeding back, but that could help a lot.

I won’t watch all the hangouts, but I find them very useful for getting to know MaidSafe, the team, and as a more interesting and enjoyable way of learning than just reading endless emails and web pages. Some people will only watch hangouts so they increase inclusiveness.

I hope we can solve this one. If they get easier for the listeners, more people will watch.

Aside: OMG Discourse has live Markdown preview. I’m sold. Thanks @David & @dyamanaka you are my heroes. Now, how do I make an annoying sig? :wink:



Hello !! Page here :smiley: thanks for the feedback :smile:


Actually, the google hangout has feedback when it is running live. But the recording does not show it.
I’ve asked several questions during the live broadcast, which you will notice the MaidSafe Team looking off to the side. They were reading the incoming questions.


Then this could be used to let the participants know. Its not as immediate or as seamless as a “shout from the back” but may help.


Those wireless headsets would 100% do the trick, but they might be a bit distracting. And the huge bummer with wireless is that you need to charge them. So you run the risk of them not working, or the signal getting crackly, or people wearing the headsets feeling like they’re working at Houston during a moon landing.

Another option, and this might be cleaner, is getting a few conference room table mics, like this or this. You could set them around the table, then wire them to a hub and run the hub into the laptop. And if you’re using the same room primarily, then could probably just live on the tables. This way no one has to wear anything.

The primary goal to getting good sound is making sure folks are within ~1ft of a microphone. So this might the best solution, now that I’m thinking about it more.

Note, the links I used are just to the style of microphone. The flat one that sits on a table, or the one that stands up. Might need to do research into which one does the best job picking up sound.


I’ve ordered the wireless headsets, so they should be here before the next hangout. I think they come with tie-clip mics too.


Do we have to start wearing ties?!?! :wink:


Curious, how long do you all anticipate these hangouts to happen? Is it just until get builders comfortable enough that we can start helping ourselves or is there intention to make this a persistent communication tool between the core team and everyone else?
I ask because the builder pods being developed in various locations may benefit from having their weekly meetups coincide with the hangouts and it would be a good compliment to a day of hacking on safenet projects.
For San Francisco, I’m envisioning a weekly Sunday meetup to accommodate for individuals that have a M-F job but that’s just an assumption for now.


Another big thing that will help is if you put up some sort of sound dampening in the room. There’s a bit of echo and it exacerbates your awesome accents :wink:

I’d say definitely keep em going, @Fraser It’s great to keep open lines of communication.


Yes - it looks like the consensus is keep em going :slight_smile:

I’m definitely in favour of keeping open lines of communication - I think the whole team here will agree on that one. We’d be idiots if we didn’t capitalise on the huge amount of knowledge and desire for progress that’s apparent in this group.

Indeed I have high hopes for this forum becoming the main means by which we do that. I think the stack exchange guys are definitely blowing the competition away here, and I’d be happy to see the Google Group (current dev list) just stop altogether.

My concern (i.e. the reason for starting the topic) was that we weren’t doing that effectively via Hangouts. I’d like them to be much more interactive. For example, I imagine this topic we’re currently discussing could have been done in a matter of 10 minutes if we could all just sit and speak.

Another downside is that the Hangouts can’t be automatically translated, unlike written communications. We haven’t had any feedback on that front, so it may not be a big issue. Maybe devs are already being forced to have a decent grasp of English just to write code?


I think we should keep doing them as long as they’re useful. They take 3 or 4 of the core devs away from their keyboards for an hour, but if the Hangouts are actually achieving their goal of communicating progress and seeking opinions, then they’re probably worthwhile overall.

If we find a better way to do this (especially one which doesn’t need me to be in front of a camera ;-)) we should go for that I suppose.


Lies. You love the camera Fraser :stuck_out_tongue:


There’s always Mumble. I think we need to pay for a server to host us if we want to go that route but I argue it could be worth it. Mumble could prove to be a good, constant means of voice interaction between builders all around the world. If it turns out productive, then there would be good incentive to build a concept system for the safenet. :slight_smile:


You can host a mumble server yourself too. Murmur