Break This Annoying Zoom Habit

Break This Annoying Zoom Habit

No, you don’t need to share your screen to report your status.

I was on a project for a British company working with a distributed team. We had a daily status update on Zoom; why this couldn’t be in email escapes me, perhaps the fact that they called it a “scrum” had something to do with it.

As each member of the group had his turn he would intone

Let me share my screen

… as though asking permission, but they always did it anyway.

Maybe one time in six he would actually demonstrate something in the application; a bug fix, a new UI feature, but most of the time it was just to watch him wiggle his mouse for ten minutes. And if he _was _demonstrating something he usually made a mistake and had to run through the whole sequence over and over, never using his keyboard or Tab key, always the mouse. For someone who actually knows how to operate a computer this was aggravating.

Stop Hijacking My Computer

So if I wanted to keep up with the call, and I came to dread the call because of this, I had to keep Zoom foregrounded and watch his cursor run around my screen with all the intent and logic of a fly on the ceiling.

I couldn’t scroll.

I couldn’t select.

And I had to keep my mouth shut because this was one of those companies that regarded any kind of unpleasantness as insubordinate and destructive. As if wasting my time was something other than destructive.

So I sat there bored looking at someone else’s desktop while he spoke in a voice that could etch diamond for as long as he felt like talking, and it was almost never helpful in any way.

And the fact that he would share his screen just to show me how to spell “Foreign Key” made me clench my fists.

Maelzel Automatons

It wasn’t just unnecessary; it felt mechanical and compulsive. It’s my turn to talk, here’s my screen.

I almost never followed suit and when one of them asked me to share my screen I replied that I had no reason to, I could explain what I was working on using, you know, words. Nobody took the hint.

If one of these people got an error message in the Chrome console (accent goes on the first syllable, champ) he would

  1. take a screen shot
  2. draw a huge rectangle within which the error message was as visible as a sixth magnitude star
  3. share it in the Zoom chat

I explained, struggling to keep the exasperation out of my voice, that all I needed was

  1. The filename
  2. the line number
  3. the message text

Never Again

Some days I would use my phone and 3G to tell them that my connection was down, skipping the call, because I was ready to scream.

As soon as this gig was over I removed Zoom from my computer. Skype still works for me.

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