Do The Right Things

Many product teams roll out their Minimum Viable Products (MVP) with an aim to test the market and then to “continuously improve” the product to make it work.

However, one of the important goals of rolling out MVP is actually to test the market and then to abandon certain features, such that the team can focus on the right things but not the wrong ones.

Better Audio For Your WFH Video Conferencing – Part 2

As a follow up to the post about enhancing your video conferencing audio quality with 3.5 mm plug microphone, this post is about USB microphone.

The USB microphone used in this post is Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser Microphone. It’s compact, quality made and mount to the top of your laptop computer. Since it’s USB based, so this post will share what you need for your laptop (in this post, Macbook Pro) and mobile phone (iPhone), but not camera.

As both Macbook Pro and iPhone don’t have the full size USB port, so you need convertors to make it work.

For Macbook Pro, you need Apple USB-C to USB Adapter such that you can connect the cable comes with Samson Go Mic to your computer. However, for iPhone, you need another cable – Apple Lightning to USB3 Camera Adapter. You can use this adapter to connect to iPhone, iPad in one end, and USB devices in the other end (For example, microphone, camera, electric organ etc.).

Here are some pictures of this set up.

Better Audio For Your WFH Video Conferencing – Part 1

Nowadays we do video conferencing all the time during Coronavirus lockdown with Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Webex, Google Meet. You may wonder if it is possible to improve the audio quality during the conference meeting, if you’re not happy with your computer built-in microphone.

You can of course attach an external microphone to your computer, mobile phone and camera. This post shares how you can do it with your laptop computer (in this post, Macbook Pro), iPhone, DSLR camera (Olympus E-M1 Mark III) with an 3.5 mm external microphone. The next post will share with you how to do it with an USB based external microphone with your computer and mobile phone.

There are many good external microphone that makes use of the 3.5 mm plug. The one I show here is the BOYA BY-MM1 Shotgun Video Microphone. The BY-MM1 is compact, light weight and housed in aluminium. It also includes an anti-shock mount,which can effectively reduce unwanted vibration, cable and handling noise. Lastly, it includes a furry windproof shield, which specially used for minimizing the wind and environmental noise for outdoor recording.

To make it work with your computer, iPhone and Camera, there are some tricks however:

  1. For laptop, just plug in the cable comes with BOYA to the 3.5 mm plug of the computer. For some reasons, I tried both the TRS and TRRS cables with the microphone, both work perfectly.
  2. For iPhone, you however need Apple Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter.
  3. One point to note for this computer and mobile phone set up if you want to use it to record audio, make sure you unplug the microphone then you can replay the audio clip with the built-in speaker. You can of course plug in your preferred headphone / earphone for that as well.
  4. For camera, also just plug in the cable to the 3.5 mm jack with the camera. However, since there is no battery with the microphone, you need to set up your camera to provide power to the microphone.

Here are some pictures of the microphone and setup !!

7 Habits of Highly Effective WFH People

Get ready for a conference call

So in this part of the world, many of us need to work from home (WFH) because of the Coronavirus disease. Naturally, work from home / remote is very different from working in the office.

There are many online information about working from home but mainly focuses on the best conference tools in the market. From my point of view however, other than good conference tools, one actually needs a few other techniques and habits to make the whole WFH exercise effective, and ultimately less “conference call fatigue”.

Here are the 7 habits that can make your work more effective:

1. Have a Working Mood and Setting Up a Proper Workplace

Highly effective people will not work from home in pajama. Instead, they will change to casual wear (formal attire is a bit strange …) before they start working. The working mindset and mood is important.

In addition, find a place or corner at home to make it your workplace. Understand it is not easy if your home is not very spacious and you have your partner, parents, kids and pets around while you’re working. Therefore if needed, find a coffee shop nearby to setup your proper workplace.

In my case, I also set up my workplace with a stand-up desk, some background music (through a Spotify playlist) as well as a cup of hot black coffee.

2. Equip Yourself with Good Tools

There are many tools in the market good for conference meetings – e.g. conference tools like Zoom.us, Microsoft Teams, WebEx and collaboration tools for whiteboarding, mind-mapping, drawing, remote desktop, document sharing etc.

Select only a limited set of tools, within your company budget and don’t over-complicate the technology.

3. Preparation of Conference Calls

Send out invitation email to all attendants with meeting agenda, joining methods – conference call tool and dial up number etc. Also note the meeting time if your attendants were from different time zones, therefore a link to timezone website will be useful.

Send an reminder email to ask the attendants to install the conference software and mobile app beforehand.

More importantly, ask the attendants to test the video, microphone, share screen function to see how it works before joining the meeting.

4. Running a Good Conference Calls

Greet the attendants one by one, so they know they joined the call successfully and aware of other attendants.

Ask the attendants to find the mute button of the tool and mute it for the moment.

When it’s time to start the meeting, inform the attendants how you’re going to run the meeting, when will be the right time to ask question and the order to ask questions – e.g. one by one, or team by team.

Then run your meeting, according to the agenda. If you need to ask your attendant questions, make sure you start with the name of the attendant and remind him or her to unmute before answering the questions.

Wrap up your meeting with a verbal summary, follow-up actions and a thank-you to all attendants.

5. Post Conference Call Actions

After the conference meeting, send out an email with the summary, and follow-up actions, to all attendants.

Collect the feedback of the conference / collaboration tools.

Help the attendants to fix any connection and tools installation issues.

6. Tracking Tasks Status

Your usual way to track task status may not work anymore (e.g. Kanban board in the office), again some file sharing and online project monitoring tools will make the team’s life a lot easier.

7. Lastly, Keep Yourself Fit

Work from home also means you no longer need to walk to public transport, or carpark; you won’t walk around in the company; and you won’t walk to lunch. In essence, you exercise less if you work from home.

Therefore, instead of walking around, you shall find time throughout the day to walk, jog, or exercise in gym.

With the same token, you shall also spare some time to read, to join some online courses … as I believe you won’t want to join hours of conference meetings every single day.

In Summary

Hope these 7 habits help you a bit to make the WFH exercise more effective. If you know other good habits and tools, let me know.

Good Bye, Professor Clayton Christensen

I’ve been a big fan of Clayton Christensen’s works for almost 20 years now, and it’s really sad to learn about the news two days ago. I learnt a lot from his books and his HBX MOOC online course on Disruptive Strategy.

If you’re interested in Disruptive Innovation, Jobs-to-be-done, living a rewarding life, some unreserved recommendations –

“The first thing is to look at disruptive technology as a growth opportunity and not as a threat …”, Clayton Christensen

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