Scientific Operations Bellum Gratia Artis

ben is wrong

someone linked this advice and it is horrifying so I am correcting the record

($depends) Don’t work in a space where your noise can bother other people, or vice versa.

what the hell why would this need to be advice? are you a monster?

($10-30) If you ever have network issues, run a cable between your computer and router. You’ll probably need an adapter. (Contrary to popular belief that a bad connection is your ISP’s fault, it’s more likely to be flaky wifi.)

you should be on ethernet to start with, wifi is for netflix

(~$100) Buy open-back headphones, which let you hear your own voice normally and are extremely comfortable.

throw all headphones in the trash

(~$30) Switch from your built-in computer mic to a headset mic (and pop filter), which will sound much better and pick up less noise. Note this requires a headset with detachable cable, like the one I linked above.

are you a fucking fast food cashier? no? buy a real mic. apogee hypemic if you want simple, otherwise replicate my shure sm58 + se dynamite + focusrite scarlett solo setup. DIRECTIONAL MICS ONLY

You can now leave yourself unmuted! If the other person also has headphones, you can also talk at the same time. Both of these will make your conversations flow better.

you should NEVER leave yourself unmuted, that is a thing that assholes do. mute while you're not talking, assholes. nobody wants to listen to you slurping your fucking nalgene sauce. conversations "flow" differently and that's not wrong or bad. the original article posts six thousand words amounting to how important it is for you to be able to interrupt one another, which is frankly ridiculous. a hypercardioid mic and some speakers set to a reasonable volume work fine for this anyway, and I'm speaking as someone with moderate hearing loss. if you want to get fancy you can run your audio through OBS and add a noise gate, or spend dollars on a noise gate appliance to run in-line with your mic. in short, being able to smoothly interrupt other speakers is a shitty thing to optimize for, but even if you decide to do that you can do it without strapping shit to your head.

($0) Prefer Zoom to most alternatives; it has higher sound quality, better echo cancellation, and fewer silly behaviors. If you have headphones and a good mic, enable “original sound” to turn off some unnecessary audio filtering.

prefer a telephone to most alternatives, that's what they're for. use videoconferencing for group work only or if there's a legit need for video/screensharing. stop pretending that you get to pick your tools and use the shit your company supports. if that's zoom I feel sorry for you because they are a genuinely shit company you should not be supporting for ethical reasons, but that's overridden by the previous sentence. if you demand a recommendation for videoconferencing, use Whereby.

(~$200) Get a second monitor for notes so that you can keep Zoom full-screen on your main monitor. It’s easier to stay present if you can always glance at people’s faces. (I use an iPad with Sidecar for this; for a dedicated device, the right search term is “portable monitor”. Also, if your meetings frequently involve presentations or screensharing, consider getting a third monitor too.)

you should have at least two monitors at your workstation or else you are some kind of useless parasite who is not actually contributing to real work. three monitors is better. use real fucking monitors on a real fucking monitor stand and care about ergonomics. nobody wants to look up your fucking nose or watch you crane your head on your couch while you use your netflix device to "take notes." take notes on a device that isn't your computer, so you can consciously organize them later. stop trying to pretend a laptop on your couch is the right place to do work.

($0?) Arrange your lighting to cast lots of diffuse light on your face, and move away any lights that shine directly into your camera. Lighting makes a bigger difference to image quality than what hardware you use!

if you're using a fucking ipad as a monitor but you spend hours tweaking your lighting you are a bad person. just make sure you're not in a fucking submarine and it'll be fine. make sure the room is well lit, use high-quality light bulbs of a moderately high light output, and have more than one of them.

(~$20-80 if you have a nice camera) Use your camera as a webcam. There’s software for Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, and Sony cameras. (You will want to be able to plug your camera into a power source, which means you’ll probably need a “dummy battery;” that’s what the cost is.)

buy a fucking webcam so that nobody has to wait for you to play with your beta drivers just to use your $3500 dust-collector. fix the webcam permanently in place near your eyeline.

(~$40 if you have a smartphone with a good camera) Use that as a webcam via Camo.

do not.

(~$350) If you don’t own a nice camera but want one, you can get a used entry-level mirrorless camera + lens + dummy battery + boom arm. See buying tips below.