by Dayle Latham

It’s football grand final season, and usually fans throughout the country would gather in pubs, clubs and homes to cheer on their team.
COVID-19 has put a stop to that in many places this year. While the grand final will go ahead, many supporters will face restrictions or lockdown, meaning they can’t gather in groups to watch.
However, most people are now familiar with using online platforms to meet for work or school, so it’s worth considering whether technology could help you host a COVID-safe finals gathering.

Tech Talk columnist Mathew Dickerson shared his advice for organising and hosting an online grand final fiesta.
“First, work out how you are going to watch the actual game,” he said. “Consider free-to-air TV, pay-TV or streaming options. If you are going to watch it on streaming, make sure you have enough bandwidth.”
He suggested all participants watch the game via the same method to avoid transmission-specific latency issues. For reasonable quality streaming, Mathew advised a minimum of 5Mbps download stream available and to use a speed testing app, like to check.
“If you are going to use a streaming service to watch the actual game, that may limit the ability for some of your online options,” he warned.
“If the game is using up a large amount of bandwidth, you may not have enough to do a video call, for example. Ideally, each ‘stream’ you require should have a bare minimum of 5Mbps available.”
The next step is to set up video conferencing with friends to watch the game together. Mathew said there were a few considerations.
“If you have access to a tablet or iPad or notebook, use that in preference to a phone as it has a bigger screen and it is easier to see people,” he said.
“You then need to decide what platform to use. If everyone has an iPad or iPhone, the easiest option is to use the Apple proprietary video call, FaceTime.
“If you have a mixture of Apple and Android devices, decide on any one of several options for video calls. You can choose Zoom or Teams or Skype or Viber or Messenger; the list goes on.”
Regardless of platform, the “critical component is that the organiser makes a decision and lets everyone know so they can download the app or perform any setup required prior to the big day,” Mathew said.
He noted it was better to use headphones and mics to reduce the odds of audio issues. A common mistake, he said, was trying to hold a tablet or phone unsteadily.
“Friends want to see each other – not the ceiling or the floor and not a jerky, laggy version,” he said. “By sitting the device on a chair or table and keeping it still, less data needs to be transmitted, making it better for everyone.”
Finally, it is vital to test everything out before the big day. “Do a test video call with everyone involved before the event so you can work out any issues before the actual game.”

Inventive games to get the footy finals party started
What’s a party without games? Here are some of Mathew Dickerson’s suggestions for online fun:
• Kahoot! is a great option for an online game. Have one of the people in the group create a Kahoot! Quiz based around some trivia involving the teams playing or some history of the game. One person shares their screen and players answer questions on their phones.
• Have all users turn their sound off the local commentary, and each person has to be the commentator for 30 seconds of the game and then is passes on to the next person. The group can decide the ‘winner’.
• Listen to some footy podcasts before the game and then at halftime each person on the call has 30 seconds to pitch their podcast as the best podcast and why.
• Before the game, send around your best team from history – but with a strict set of rules that make no sense. For example, you can pick a rugby league team, but each of the players must have a surname that covers the alphabet’s first (or last) 13 letters. Tough decisions must be made – Fulton or Fittler for ‘F’? Arthur Beetson or Kerry Boustead? Graeme Langlands or Allan Langer? You get the idea.

Mathew Dickerson is a technologist and futurist and the founder of several technology start-ups.

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