Monday, June 4, 2012

Skype™ Depositions: Why Use a Lamborghini When a Hyundai Will Do Quite Well? Part II

            This blog and the blog before it are meant to summarize the attitude of courts towards the use of Skype™ as an effective means of taking depositions.  It is also intended to provide a basic introduction to the use of Skype™ for this purpose, as well as how to address common technical and practical issues which might arise.  It is not intended to allow an individual with little or no knowledge of computers to take a Skype™ deposition unassisted, and even experienced users would be well advised to consider arranging for professional technical support to provide advice and assistance in setting up a Skype™ deposition.

1.      Skype-Specific Tips for Videoconferencing
a.       Skype™ works best on a personal computer (i.e. not a Macintosh) with the following specifications.  Please remember that ALL parties involved should be able to meet the minimum specifications below.
                                                              i.      Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7.  Make sure that your operating system has been properly updated and patched.
                                                            ii.      While Skype™ can function adequately with a 1.8 GHz processor, a 2.4 GHz Intel® Core™ 2 Duo Processor or equivalent is recommended.
                                                          iii.      While Skype™ can function with as little as 512 megabytes of ram, at least 2 GB of RAM is recommended.
                                                          iv.      A graphics card with at least 32 megabytes of RAM – with at least twice that being recommended.
                                                            v.      A monitor with a minimum resolution of 640x480, though a 1280 x 720 monitor resolution is recommended.
b.      If you plan on recording the conversation, it would be advisable to have at least one terabyte of storage (a terabyte is approximately 1,000 gigabytes).  It is possible to obtain 1-2 terabyte external storage for a little over $100. 
c.       Internet Connection
                                                              i.      All parties should have a high-speed broadband connection with at least 4 megabytes/second download and 512 kilobytes/second upload.  While Skype™ can function at lower speeds than these, performance may degrade.  If you are connecting through a local area network, be sure that the network will allow the computer you plan to use for the deposition to achieve these speeds.
                                                            ii.      A hardwired internet connection is preferable to a wi-fi connection and should be used whenever possible.  Ideally, all participants should be in a Location where a high speed connection hardwired is available.
d.      Webcam – you should plan on spending $50-$100 for a decent web cam to ensure high-quality video.
e.       Both sides of the connection must have a high-speed internet connection for Skype™ to work at an acceptable level.
f.       There have been problems reported with Skype™’s audio transmissions.  If testing reveals audio problems, an easy fix is to use some other means of transmitting audio, such using land-line speaker phones at each location to transmit audio.  If you use this method, be sure to place any microphones on the Skype™-ing computers on “mute”.

2.      Software – You should have the following software and accounts
a.       All participants will need Skype™ 4.2 (or higher) for Windows.
b.      All participants will need DirectX 9.0c and a compatible video card (hardware). 
c.       to make a group video call, at least one of the people on the call must have a Skype™ Premium account (for personal accounts) or a Group Video Subscription (for business accounts).
3.      Practice
a.       Even before a test call, be sure to practice making connections with, and using the features of, Skype™.  In addition to increasing your level of comfort with the service, it will also allow you more easily to identify and address potential problems which may arise.  In particular, practice using and repositioning the webcam, making adjustments to the audio devices, and adding participants to calls.  If you plan to record your call, you should obviously also practice doing so.
b.      Skype™ also has a number of additional features which may prove useful during a deposition – for example, the capability to send a file to all participants in a call.  To the extent you anticipate using such a feature, be sure to practice doing so beforehand.
4.      Testing in Advance – Advance testing is even more important for Skype™ depositions than for other types of videoconferencing. 
a.       If possible you should plan to make at least one test call prior to the date of the deposition which involves as many of the same participants, hardware, and locations that will be used in the actual deposition as practical.  
b.      During this call, make sure all peripheral hardware, such as the webcam and any audio devices (land lines, microphones, speakers, etc.) are working properly and provide acceptable feedback.
c.       If you encounter performance problems during testing, Game Booster, a free utility that helps improve your computer’s processing speed, may be able to help abate them.  As always, this should be tested before it is relied upon.
d.      When setting up your connections, be sure you are talking to the correct individual(s) at the other location(s) to ensure that everything is being set up correctly. 
e.       All participants should plan to call into the deposition at least 15 minutes early to work out any final bugs.
5.      Check the Settings – Remember to turn off online notifications on the computer you are using for the Skype™ conference, especially if you also use Skype™ for personal purposes.  You do not want testimony to be interrupted by a message informing you that one of your co-workers, friends, or family members is now online.  Also disable any other software or notifications which may create a distraction during the deposition.
6.      Security:
a.       Skype™ encrypts communications made using its software.
b.      However, transmissions using Skype™ (“feeds”) can be vulnerable to attacks by hackers. 
c.       To enhance the security of your transmissions, all participants should ensure that Skype™ is not using their device as a “super node”.  There are instructions on Skype™’s public website for making the modifications needed to achieve this.
7.      Skype™’s Group Chat Feature:
a.       One Member must have a Skype™ Premium Account, which is $9.99 per month.
b.      Group chat has higher system requirements than regular video chat.  As of the time of writing, the minimum requirements were a high-speed broadband connection of 512 kbps download speed and 128 kbps upload speed, and a computer with at least 1 gigahertz of processing power.  Recommended system specifications are 4 Mbps down/512 kbps up and a core 2 duo 1.8 gigahertz processor. 

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Personal Injury Attorney Florida said...

Nice post sir about employment law. its very effective for law student. thanks for shearing it.

J McClellan said...

Good job

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