Date: Mon, 24 Aug 2020 13:52:00 -0500 (EST)
  Subject: [was: Arisia '21 Tech] NASFiC mini-report

Covert sez:

   ... unless they have Virtual Machines they are limited to one
   item per box.

Not strictly so.  With a Linux headend and a little environment skulduggery,
it's possible to run more than one Zoom on a single machine, and even
screenshare one into the other.  I've done this in experiments, and came
close to trying it in an attempt to salvage a stream feed that had gone
down over the weekend.  Last weekend, that is, while assisting with the
run of NASFiC.

This has morphed into a more general report on that.

Yes, I've been sucked into the virtual-con-tech vortex too, and without the
new laptop I just put together my participation would have basically been
impossible.  At the height of things I was watching and hearing all four
output streams at once, managing events as a Zoom host, and cross-pasting
stuff between Discord and zoom chat windows.  On a single head; the tablet
was sitting off to the side dark and ignored for most of it, except maybe
for a quick look at the weather radar as the squall line moved through
yesterday.  It was completely crazy, the machine was running loads of 6 or
7 pretty much all weekend with all 4 cores maxed out and the fan screaming,
but it held up surprisingly well.  And this isn't even what you'd call a
soopah-high-end laptop.  Occasionally I'd get kernel spew about thermal
throttling in the processor core, but it didn't seem to affect things.
Once or twice a Firefox "web content" thread handling a video stream ran
out of memory and croaked, but didn't donk anything else along with.  I
don't allow swap at all on this machine, by design.

Two weeks ago I didn't know a damn thing about Discord, but now I realize
why the gamers love it -- besides its blast of visual diarrhea, there's
a highly complex structure of roles, permissions, channel attributes,
notifications, and other building blocks from which elaborate community
structures can be built and sprinkled liberally with emojis and animated
gifs.  And that doesn't include what external "bots" can do after being
brought in and given sufficient privileges.  I did create a little mini-
"server" to muck with and see some of this stuff, even if every time I fire
this thing up I recall my dozen-line "bullshit script" that served as a
perfectly adequate single-channel text chat system.  It had me wondering
how I'd gateway a random TCP port on some machine into a Discord channel...
The NASFiC folks had an interesting presentation of Discord encapsulated
into the event website, via something called TitanEmbeds, but that's some
pretty complex API work.  I was just running the direct client, though,
based out of completely volatile space and manually state-saved aside later.

I got good insight into managing streaming stuff through watching Syd and
Dragos and some others pound on cloud servers running OBS and Zoom and
other stuff via RDP, although in the end I couldn't help directly with
that for lack of a 4K monitor.  The working approach had to get a lot more
klunky midway into it for Reasons, mostly having to do with selecting
sections of a larger screen to serve out to Vimeo.  There was some serious
high magic going on over there that I still don't really understand.  But I
did okay on my single 14" for my piece of things, madly alt-tabbing windows
back and forth and being really handy on my other keyboard shortcuts.

And my participation in reCONvene the prior weekend had been a nice warmup.
I've now witnessed firsthand two differing approaches in zoom webinar vs.
meeting format and the issues that go along with either, different approaches
to feeding attendee participation, and how some of the moving parts really
aren't well adapted to doing this but "is what it is" that we presently have.
I'm sure all of this will rapidly improve over time, and hopefully get
cheaper because at the "pro" tiers required for Zoom and some other services,
especially AI-driven closed captioning, this stuff ain't cheap.

There are likely some people in the Arisia fold who aren't actually on the
tech lists but already have competence with a lot of this new frontier, so
a query would do well being put out to that larger community.  I'm gonna
link this up someplace and cross-post to TF, too.

[Later, someone complained about the relatively small video embed frames on the public
convention website, leading me to add this followup:]
When I set up my multi-way streamer, I went to the "room" page, right-clicked
on the video embed, and selected "only this frame".  That brought it up nice
and large.  I tihnk there was a link under it to do a similar thing, but I
used my own way to simplify what I was looking at.  That rendered basically
as big as I wanted to make the browser window, and I believe most of the
streams were 720p resolution to start with.  [Enough to show how cruddy
some peoples' zoom-cams were...]

Four tabs, four audio feeds panned across the stereo field in my headphones.
It was quite the running babble all around me, but each room was distinctly
identifiable and I could tell immediately which stream was having issues
just by listening.