Logistics for the 2020 online Secular Solstice*

by Alex_Altair, lauravaughan, Raemon2 min read3rd Dec 20208 comments

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Secular SolsticeCommunity
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Solstice is coming up soon! Since it's online this year (facebook event), anyone can join. This post describes logistics relevant to attending. If you're not familiar with Secular Solstice the holiday event, more info can be found in this sequence.

On the day-of the event, there will be a link to a custom website posted here, and in the facebook event. (It's not up yet because we're still finalizing the solstice app).

The "virtual doors" will open at 4:30pm PT, 7:30 pm ET. There will be some initial period as we wait for people to file in. We will aim to start the ceremony at 4:45pm, but it might be a bit delayed depending on whether there are unexpected technical hiccups for a lot of people.

Because the format of the event will be so different this year, there are a lot of things you can do to prepare that will make your experience better. Here are the bare essentials;

  • Chrome is required (no mobile)
  • Use wired headphones
  • Consider buying things to improve your experience (headphones, candles, etc); buy these sooner so that they ship to you before the event

Some of these logistics stem from the fact that we've built a web app that improves the ritual experience, including singing along with other attendees. (More info here, but no comprehensive tutorial yet.)

The number one thing about this app is that it only works in Chrome, and it is not being tested on mobile browsers. Apologies to users of other browsers; please have Chrome downloaded and in working order before you try to come to the event!

This will allow you to listen to the event, but if you want others to hear you sing, then you will also require wired headphones (not wireless, e.g. no bluetooth or AirPods). If you try to contribute your singing without any headphones, then you will cause audio feedback, which will worsen the experience of other attendees. (This will result in an admin moving you into ‘listen only’ mode).

Wireless headphones have too high latency to feed your audio to another participant.

If you don't want to use wired headphones, you can still listen to the performance, but no one will hear you singing.


Besides those audio logistics, consider using a webcam, perhaps a high quality one. This is not essential for participation, but part of what we're excited about is seeing everyone's faces!

If you can connect to the internet directly through ethernet rather than wifi, this will improve the quality of your video and audio (and is generally less prone to connection problems).

Also consider removing anything that might distract you during the event; mute your phone, turn off desktop notifications, close other programs or browser tabs, disable chrome extensions that show your unread email count, et cetera. Immersion will be hard to achieve, but there's a lot we can do to prepare.

Another way to increase your immersion is to have some candles ready to light. Candles are very cheap to buy if you don't already have some, and don't forget a candle holder. Practice placing them nearby and lighting them to make sure they don't drip somewhere unwanted or pose a fire hazard; and remind yourself where your fire extinguisher is!


Lastly, if you'd like to consider bubbling up with others (perhaps using the microCOVID system) to celebrate this holiday together in person, now is the time to start planning that. (Note that if you will have a group of people listening to the event from a common sound source, then the group can't contribute their singing, because they won't have headphones. On the other hand, you can hear each other sing!)


Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns; we know that’s a lot to digest! We’ll also be sending out reminders of these logistics (and any other developments) as we get closer to December 19th.

-- 2020 Solstice Organizers, Ray Arnold, Laura Vaughan and Alex Altair

 

*no it's not literally on Solstice

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8 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 10:15 PM
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Tomorrow is the day! This is the link: https://secularsolstice2020.org/ Note that while the site is up, we may be doing random testing and bug fixes over the next 24 hours, so expect the site to behave weirdly. 

Reminder:

  • Requires Chrome
  • Works much better with a WIRED headset (not bluetooth)
  • Works much better with WIRED internet (not wifi)
  • You may need to close other tabs or applications that are takng up lots of bandwidth.
  • Having candles is nice

only works in Chrome [...] please have Chrome downloaded

If it's not expensive to find out, what about Chromium (which is the same software but without Google's special proprietary additions)? (Maybe I shouldn't ask, because I do already have Chrome installed, but this might be relevant to some other Linux users.)

I believe chromium works. (I'd have to dig through some Facebook messenger chats to find the answer but I remember it coming up and pretty sure the answer was yes)

Yeah, I expect Chromium-based browsers will have a good chance of just working, but we will have no resource margin for properly testing anything but Chrome. (I also sort of expect that the kind of person who uses an uncommon browser will be the kind of person to try it anyway.)

but we will have no resource margin for properly testing anything but Chrome. (I also sort of expect that the kind of person who uses an uncommon browser will be the kind of person to try it anyway.)

I live in such a tech (especially FOSS) bubble that I feel sad faced with the reality that anything other than Chrome counts as an "uncommon browser".

(Although, checking the stats, it looks like even on desktop, Chrome's browser share is only around 65%, which isn't as monopolistically high as I expected.)

(PS: this isn't meant to be a criticism of your decision at all, to be clear.)

Hey all, if you had any feedback on Solstice, please take some time to fill out the Solstice feedback form!

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfMGOHp3QGlwaLaDrN0A0Nhxv6pMbWHnBSKxQLC3PNvnKX6Dg/viewform

I'm interested in attending. But it is unclear how I might actually do that, even on the Facebook event. This seems like a barrier to entry you all did not intend.

I updated the post to say:

On the day-of the event, there will be a link to a custom website posted here, and in the facebook event. (It's not up yet because we're still finalizing the solstice app).

The "virtual doors" will open at 4:30pm PT, 7:30 pm ET. There will be some initial period as we wait for people to file in. We will aim to start the ceremony at 4:45pm, but it might be a bit delayed depending on whether there are unexpected technical hiccups for a lot of people.