Free No-Suck Video Conferencing 2020-04-11
So there seems to be this virus going around, and some folks seem to be dying from it. Some places (including my region) are under some form of lockdown with many businesses closing, travel being restricted, schools being closed, and people having to stay home. It seems some folks are going what I like to refer to as "batshit crazy" in their isolation. Some of them are so crazy they figure it is a good idea to use services like Facebork and Zoom (also known as Dooom!) to video conference. Maybe a phone call isn't as good as a choppy image of someone you love staring "not quite at you"... but that's no reason to use services that don't respect your privacy or security.
Don't take my word for it though. Feel free to use your favourite search engine to search for "zoom security privacy problems" and see for yourself. Sadly, lots of people like the comfort of using services provided by big fat bloated corporations with fun recognizable names and a strong branding presence. Well, not this guy. So when I heard that a couple of my relatives were thinking of using Dooom! to video conference I said I would get them something better. So I made a server that hosts a Jitsi instance. It is a framework that provides a video conferencing interface that is supposed [as far as I know] to look like Skype, also known as Skraype. Anyways, you're welcome to use my Jitsi instance to run whatever video conferencing you like. I am not going to track users, monitor conferences, collect metadata, or record any audio or video. I don't care what you use it for or who you conference with or what body parts you point your camera at. My server uses the same kind of encryption the popular services use and you do not need any kind of account to use my service because I don't want to know who is using it. You can use it as long as you like, with whomever you like, for free.
My understanding is that Chromium based browsers work well but that Firefox is flakey with Jitsi. If you don't like Google's tracking junk you could always try ungoogled-chromium or Vivaldi. Got an Android phone? Try the Android app. There's an iOS download there too, but just the thought of an Apple device makes me pinch my nose.
You can access the service by clicking the image below. Just choose a fun name for your conference room and hit the Go button. You'll probably have to allow access to your camera and microphone when the warning pops up, and then add a password to your chat room in the bottom right corner. Invite others to your chat room with the link:
Where "MyCoolChatRoom" is the fun name you chose. Or just send them to calls.snork.ca and tell them to type in the name of your chat room. They will of course also need to know the password you set for your personal chat room.
I'll leave the conference server running for at least as long as there seem to be folks going crazy from the lockdown. If lots of people are using it then maybe I'll just keep it running all the time. If you really like the service, why not offer to throw me a few dollars to help pay for the server I am renting to run it? If you don't like it, well... can't make everyone happy right?