Help on Video Conferencing

Given the development of digital communication, we can create and share data with millions of people across the world in vastly reduced amounts of time. An example is the social networking site called Facebook, which you can send pictures, posts, videos etc across to another user’s page and they could be on the other side of the globe and it may take only a few seconds.

Of course, as internet speeds and bandwidth increase, it is now possible to share live video calls with another person over the use of the internet and a small device called a “Webcam.” The name is pretty self-explanatory, as it’s a camera you use over the internet and with various computer-related software. Now sharing live video over the internet on a 1to1 basis or with a group of people, is called “Video Conferencing.” Video Conferencing is commonly used during business meetings, family group calls, things like that. Of course, there are many small variants of the Video Conferencing concept, which include sharing your webcam in website chatrooms… But there are also downloadable software packages with  video calling in mind, like Skype.

But how does it work? To help explain the basics, I will use Skype for this. NOTE: This is in no way an instructional post on how to use Skype but it will include a couple of details to explain how it works and how it works ONLY.

The is the basic layout of the video conference. Various settings to customise your video display and audio are located in various sections of this page (shown above). Left clicking on one of the user’s videos will shrink the others and enlarge the one you selected and this is a useful tool to see objects in that person’s video call more clearly (depending on video quality).

On the left is where all your contacts will be stored, as well as your Facebook contacts if you have connected the two accounts together. Initiating a Skype call is as simple as left-clicking the desired person and clicking call, call with video, or in the case shown in the picture above, call phone. You add more people to the call by clicking Conversation at the top and then Add People. That is the summary of how Skype video conferences operate.

You will have to understand that social networking sites do it a little differently and most of them would ask for your permission to access your camera before use (differs depending on site and if the camera is a USB Device). All that require is a couple of clicks indicated by the specific website and your WebCam is live in chatrooms.

Well, there are the basics and make no mistake, this is quick and simple for explanatory purposes, so I hope you have picked something up from this post. As always, I am available to offer advice and more information if you require it, but for now, good luck and have fun.

Youth Persception of Today

Often in society, we subject youths to harsh scrutiny and prejudice, so we generalise them as a negative impact upon our country and the structure in which we live by. However, if you speak to people who work with youths, you will find that their opinions contrast to the majority’s views. As such, the prejudicial thoughts we have of young people are largely falsified and we shouldn’t use them as scapegoats for our social and political problems.

From first glance, it appears that it’s the older generations that seem to have problems with the younger generations based on the pretence that because of what they wear and how they brand themselves, they are bound to cause trouble. The sight of a young person wearing a hooded top, hanging in large groups outside local shops would raise suspicion of their intent. Often it’s enough to worry people and deter them from going around certain areas, to which it gets to the point that a lot of the older generations (including the elderly) feel unsafe. Generally, people are concerned of how young people act because they wear clothes that may mask their identity or give off an intimidating aura through uncommon mannerisms to adults and older people. Just a few days ago, I overheard two elderly people talk about kids and one said “Bloody youths and their hooded tops, they only want to cause trouble and I don’t like walking ’round the shops in the afternoon.”

As coincidental as it was, people are concerned. As much as we all might like to agree with these theories, it harbors no excuse to mark them as bad people that we should condemn… Instead, we need to look at all of the young people as a whole and we need to understand the bigger picture.

Right now, we have five main youth subcultures within the UK society: Chavs; derivations of american hip-hop fashion and are often seen as stupid and violent working class youths, Goths; dark-clad clothing and makeup that listen to dark genres of music such as “Gothic Rock” and “Darkwave,” Emos; emotional rockers who emphasise feelings of suffering and misery with a general hate for society, Punks; anti-establishment and Punk-rock listening young people who want freedom through anarchy… And Ravers; new age hippies who attend high-adrenaline and fast-paced electronic parties. Each genre is only pointed out in British media based on their negative stereotypes, particularly Chavs and Goths, who are deemed as particularly violent subcultures. Chavs are seen as kids who like to wear “trashy” sportswear clothing and use vulgar language and fighting… And Goths are seen as Satanic occultists who partake in morbid cult rituals related with blood and gore. This is an overview, but there is so much speculation on these genres that most of the facts are false and we don’t care to understand that the individual youth related to a certain genre may very well be a good and upstanding kid, who may just like the style of clothes or music. Essentially, all these subcultures are formed through shortcomings in social situations… this means that when we relay information to each other, we forego unnecessary details to make communication easier.

As much as there are people who dislike these genres, there are less-prejudiced people who support all styles of youth culture and set to put youths in a good light and they’re called “Youth Workers.” Organizations in the UK such as Connexions: The Hub, The Youth Federation and Oasis provide young people with a place to go and a means to get off the street, if only for a few hours a day. I personally went down to The Hub to talk with youth workers to discuss the issues that young people have and I was fortunate to meet a youth worker called Gareth Jones, who has been working as a youth worker for over 10 years.

In my conversation with Gareth, he explained that “The government’s budget cuts, EMA cuts and a hike in University fees has made the economy unstable and this has created a unlevelled playing field for youths, where now the situation is that harsh stereotypes nudge them towards negative behaviour.”

He also went on to say, “Mass generalisation is false and we can’t use young people as a scapegoat for all our problems, I have met many youths throughout my career and I have heard some truly inspiring stories, as well as make some of them. One of the roles in our job is not only to provide facilities and activities for young kids, but to also play as advocate between them and the older generation and help set youths in a good light. Of course there are some youths who just want to cause trouble, but generally I have not had a problem with any young person I have worked with in the past 5 years.”

Also discussed in the conversation with Gareth Jones, as well as other youth workers, was the fact that Connexions has undertaken a phenomenal cut in resources over recent years, from £15mil to £1.5mil and this means reaching out to fewer groups of people. We cannot afford these resources to be taken away because this will only make things worse in the sense that less money means less clubs and activities which will result in more and more kids taking to crime and negative behaviour JUST because they’re bored. The best course of action is to invest more money into youth organisations and this will house many things for youths to do and means less of them out on the street. It is as simple as that, but government processes and protocols would take more time to distribute this wealth they can potentially invest in youth work organisations such as Connexions, The Youth Federation and Oasis.

In short, bad kids are bad kids because they’re driven to be like that, but there are people and groups who are working to help change people’s opinions. Taking away from this, people should understand that not all young people are out to cause trouble and/or crime, so we need to be more empathetic towards them. In the current economical and social state with the London Riots heavily impacting upon youths and high University fee, they have very little to no means of recreation and opportunities to make better lives for themselves. Investments into youth work activities and funding towards government-granted youth groups will certainly stem a lot of youth crime and it will give the younger generation more opportunities to make something for themselves. I’m sure most of us have heard the saying “The Devil makes work for idle hands” and it couldn’t be any more true in these situations. All that can be expected of us, is that we give young people a chance.

Review – “Dead Letters” by The Rasmus

For those who enjoy their hard rock with a dark, yet melodic vibe to it, then the Rasmus will have you enthralled in an almost fairytale-like and emotional venture. Since their emergence from a garage and the release of their first album “Peep,” in 1996, the band have defied a lot of trends to explore their own creativity and “Dead Letters” was a result of this. Of the 2.5 millions album copies sold worldwide by The Rasmus, 1.5 million of these are of Dead Letters (released in March 23, 2004) and for a group of Finnish schoolmates, this is an incredible feat.

At an initial hearing of the album, you get a strong feeling of sorrow and hardship as well as strength and you wouldn’t believe singer Lauri Ylönen to be encompassing this, as an average kind of Finnish male who then defied a lot of trends to pursue his own creative freedom. To me, the first song sets the stage, or the narrative for the whole album and for ‘First Day Of My Life’ it couldn’t get more straightforward with the title. Strong guitar rhythms and a harmonious voice combined with violins, cellos and myriad of other backing instruments make for a polished and professional piece of audio artwork. Meaning that Dead Letters provokes the senses to feel what The Rasmus are feeling and for fans of hard rock, particularly The Rasmus’ style of hard rock, they would feel goosebumps and chills up their spines. Lauri’s methods of songwriting comprise of cleverly mixing tempo and pitch with the climactic sections of his songs to be loud, almost as if they’re bursting forth from his theme of struggles and with this knowledge in mind, most people would understand how they can interpret the theme of strength in this album. To put it into a nutshell, Lauri Ylönen mixes hard and soft styles of rock but redefines the chorus into amplifying the tone, emotion and message of the song to the listeners and fans. In a way this reaches out to people undergoing great hardships and struggles to take a stand and fight back for their livelihoods.

It was smart of The Rasmus to look at the concepts of sorrow, becoming strong and making our own stamps because at the time of the album release, it was a whole new wave of music where a lot of punk rock and hard rock emerged and young people in particular took to these genres.  Despite the singer’s talents to create masterpiece music befitting of the current social and musical environment, there are a few drawbacks to Dead Letters that encumber Lauri’s songwriting masterpieces. The mood later becomes downtrodden in struggles and misery and albums that start on a high and descend down to a less-than powerful atmosphere often put me off. Meaning that even though Mr Ylönen and the band can create beautiful songs, unfortunately the structure of the tracklist is jagged and misplaced and this can display a different mood entirely. As much as the music is enjoyable, The Rasmus have some ways to go to improve and then dominate the rock genre. Luckily this only happens in a couple of tracks near the end of the album and the melodic hard rock vibe that listeners initially receive from the band, is picked back up again to provide a powerful mood-driven climax.

Regardless of that minor setback in negativity, Dead Letters is an extremely potent mix of melodies, choir-like singing and that hard rock edge that’s like a steel-toe-capped boot, swiping non-believers in the face before they even get a chance to start hating… And that’s one boot I don’t want to have an indent of on my face, believe me.