As you know, the Governor of Maryland, in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has issued mandates that prevent us from using our Club House for any type of meeting for some period of time. Your Board of Directors has reacted by purchasing a year's subscription to "Zoom", a computer service designed for those who wish to hold meetings, seminars and classes over the Internet.
So far we have had great success with this product. We've used it to hold 2 Board Meetings, 1 Membership Meeting, 3 Technician Classes, 1 General License Class, several Morse Code Classes, a couple of Wrecking Crew Meetings, a Rules Committee Meeting and a Boy Scout Radio Merit Badge presentation, all with no difficulty. It worked perfectly.
I now understand that Governor Hogan is in process of planning for the eventual reduction of restrictions as needed to stop the spread of COVID-19. My understanding is that the first phase of this plan will begin sometime in May.
It is my understanding that the timing of the various phases of this change will be set to coincide with certain reduction goals in the rate of new infections. Those 500,000 test kits the Governor's wife bought from Korea appear to be key to the success of his program. What I also am led to believe is that different restrictions will be appropriate for different parts of our population. I understand retirement community visitations will not come till the final phase in the Governor's plan. Meanwhile those who have be determined to have had the virus and recorvered, may be able to go back to work or school as needed. The management of all this is going to be tricky so I wish the Governor the best of luck with what appears to be a solid plan.
The Anne Arundel Radio Club, like the government, is therefore going to have to adapt to the varying needs of its members. Some have likely recovered from COVID-19 already, and some may be in the process of doing so. Others may be in the most vulnerable category, and need to stay quarantined for some time to come. What I am suggesting is that once we are able to have meetings in our club house again, we may want to adapt those meetings, so that some members can attend in person, while others attend via Zoom.
I am hopeful we can get our VE Testing program back in operation as early as June or July, though I am sure we will have to adapt the process to protect those who need it. So we have our work cut out for us in using technology to adapt ourselves so the Anne Arundel Radio Club can continue to be the all inclusive club it has always been. I invite everyone to watch this website and your email inbox for changes as they happen. Plus if you have a good idea in how we can adapt better, don't keep it to yourself. This is your club. Own it. .
Meanhwile for those who haven't tried using Zoom yet. It's easy. For meetings you should receive an invite of some sort, containing 1) the Meeting ID; 2) the password; 3) telephone numbers; and 4) a URL which will contain the Meeting ID and password. You will need some or all of this information in order to login.
Zoom meetings may be viewed using a regular web browser, with or without the freely downloadable Chrome and Firefox extensions, or by using free Zoom software downloadable from http://zoom.us/download. Zoom software is available for Mac and PC as well as Linux, and comes as an app for iPhone and Android devices (downloadable from the Apple App Store or Google Play). Zoom's home page is http://zoom.us and there are many great tutorials on YouTube. And if you need help, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You do not need a mic or cam to use Zoom, though they do enhance the experience. Likewise you do not need a speaker on your PC. The phone numbers in the invite can be used to listen to the meeting audio, and for asking questions. If you have a speaker on your PC, you can use it, and ask questions by typing them using Zoom's built in chat function. Of course if you use a smart phone or tablet, that device's speaker, mic and cam will all be available for your use.
Let me add that you can use a free copy of the Zoom software to make one-on-one meetings possible. Of course one of you must set up the meeting time and date, and arrange for the invite to be emailed to the other. This also allows you to test your setup before any more important meetings take place. Currently there is no time limit on these one-on-one meeting due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However when that ends the time limit will be set to 40 minutes.
Finally if you need to test of your Zoom setup, we can likely accommodate you. Please again send such requests to Eric Berman KC3GDV at email@example.com. He is our official Zoom host, and sets up all meetings for us. So if you need a meeting set up, you know who to call, and it's not Ghostbusters.