Attending SFL Meetings Remotely
Science Fiction London (SFL) has been meeting in person for many years. Meeting this way has been great but it has always limited us to people that lived close to us. Since Science Fiction is read all over the world, we know that there are people who don't live in our area but still want to talk about their favourite works of Science Fiction and Fantasy. We are delighted to give you the opportunity to join our meetings via the Internet!
We operate in English so as long as you are functional in English and have a computer, tablet or phone that can run the software we use for the video-conferencing, you should have everything you need to join our meetings remotely.
Getting an Invitation
If you wish to attend one of our meetings via video-conference, you'll need to install the software that we use for that purpose, Skype, and then send your Skype contact information to our webmaster. (Please send that information at least a day before the meeting.) On the day of the meeting, at roughly 1:10pm our time, you will be contacted via a Skype call to join the meeting. Assuming you accept, you will immediately be visible and audible to everyone at the meeting, regardless of whether they are in the meeting room or attending remotely like you.
If you enjoy your remote meeting and want to attend more, we'll invite you to subsequent meetings. Also, you can always ask our webmaster for an invitation, if you've attended a meeting with us in the past but haven't attended one lately. You can come to our meetings as often or infrequently as you like. You don't have to participate either; if you just want to "lurk" (listen without participating), that's okay too. Some of our "in person" members are lurkers, too ;-)
The software that we use for video-conferencing is currently Skype. Skype is a widely used communications program that works on many computers, tablets, and WiFi-connected smartphones. Skype can be downloaded at the Skype website. Skype is free for calls between computers, tablets and WiFi-connected smartphones.
If you are unfamiliar with Skype, we strongly encourage you to practice with it a bit before the meeting since it is very disruptive to our meetings if we have to show you how to use it during the meeting itself. Then, once you have a couple of Skype calls under your belt, send the webmaster your Skype contact information. The webmaster will then send you a contact request; you will have to accept that request in order to participate in our meetings.
Skype will enable you to see and hear us as long as you have a working monitor and speakers. If you want us to be able to hear you when you speak, you'll need some kind of microphone or headset connected to your computer. If you want us to be able to see you, you'll need some kind of webcam installed. A lot of computers have webcams with built-in microphones these days, especially laptops and other portable computers, so you probably already have both things. But if you have an older computer without a webcam or microphone and still want to participate, you'll need to acquire a webcam with a built-in microphone or a webcam and a separate microphone/headset.
The only other requirement is that you have a high-speed internet connection, via DSL, cable or fiber optic. Skype doesn't work with dialup! We've also found that it is best to use a "hardwired" connection rather than a wireless connection with this software. That just means connecting your computer to your modem or router via an ethernet cable for the duration of the meeting rather than running wirelessly.
We will not charge you anything to participate in our meetings or join our club. You will, of course, have to pay your ISP for your internet service as usual. If you want to upgrade your hardware by buying a (better) microphone, headset or webcam, that's entirely up to you; we won't pay for it.
For more information about the club, simply look at the rest of the site via our index to find out what you want to know. You will probably be interested in looking at our list of Meeting Topics to know what's been scheduled and when. Also, if you want to know how to get your own suggestions on to the topic list, see the Choosing Topics page. Information about the precise time and duration of the meetings can be found on the Meeting Location page. If those pages don't answer your questions, ask our Webmaster.