UPDATE 3/25/20

Gentlemen and Brothers,

I hope you are all well and continuing to stay connected to each other.  I've been continuing to work in the background to find a way to keep our group functioning as close to normal as possible.

First an update about last week's trial video group: 

It was frustrating, and to me felt like a disaster.  We only had three brothers join the video chat, and were plagued with technical issues throughout.  This was so distracting to me that I personally found it very difficult to remain emotionally present.  My brothers were gracious but deserve more from me.  Needless to say, no one was charged for last week.  In short, I believe our technical issues came down to old equipment, poor bandwidth, and an OK but not optimal video platform for our group.  I was facilitating our trial run in the worst case scenario (Hotspot and mobile phone from 2013 as host), so we can only improve from there!

Here's what I'm doing about it:

First, I've switched video platforms.  I've been testing ZOOM all week, and have thus far not had any technical issues with any of the individual appointments I've conducted through ZOOM.  The closest I've been able to test for a group conference was to connect every device I own to a mock group session (mobile devices through 4G to simulate multiple networks connecting).  I've been told by others who use this platform for groups larger than ours that it performs well for them.

Second, I'm going to host future ZOOM meetings from my home where I have good bandwidth, a very nerdy network infrastructure, and bespoke gaming PC that has proven itself worthy.  There MAY be an occasion I have to host from my office, but I'll minimize this as much as possible, but in such cases SHOULD still work better than last weeks meeting (I may be updating more equipment to help).

To join us in group this week:

  1. Download the 'Zoom Client app' from https://zoom.us/download for desktops and laptops, or from your app store for phones and tablets.  Please don't wait until group time to do this.

  2. You can either create an account or login as a guest (please use your first name). 

  3. You'll need to enter our 'Meeting ID' to join the video group, which will be my phone number (916-337-5406).

  4. Wait in the “virtual waiting room” until I’m able to add you into the group chat – this may take a moment. 

  5. In order to prevent issues with audio, please mute your mic until it's your time to share or give feedback

 

If you experience technical difficulties at any time, please log out and in again.  

Anything you can do to minimize bandwidth and CPU load will improve your experience (kill background programs and apps, don’t use other devices on your network at the same time, don’t connect through a VPN, etc.)

IMPORTANT:  Each participant MUST take steps to ensure the groups confidentiality.  Please respect one another by not joining the video group if you are within earshot of your wife, kids, etc.   You may want to use earbuds if your wife is in the next room, or your car may also serve as a “cone of silence,” provided you get a good signal.

Future announcements and planning for the future

On average, we currently have roughly half the group participate on a regular basis, which was not how our group was designed, and makes it impossible to plan effectively for.  The current COVID-19 situation brings even more uncertainty, and increases our need for a more effective way for me to make occasional "official" group announcements.  I would like to make future group announcements via email. 

 

I need a response from EACH GROUP MEMBER.  Please send an email to info@bobparkinslmft.com to be included in future announcements, AND let me know your intentions for continuing in group (either way).  Very little information makes it all the way to me, so please respond even if you think I already have your email or know your plans.

We WILL prevail!

Bob

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