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add a ton of documentation on Big Blue Button
Sep 01, 2021
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<!-- simple, brainless step-by-step instructions requiring little or -->
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## Connecting to Big Blue Button with a web browser
The Tor Big Blue Button (BBB) server is currently hosted at
. Normally, someone will start a conference
and send you a special link for you to join. You should be able to
open that link in any web browser (including mobile phones) and join
The web interface will ask you if you want to "join the audio" through
"Microphone" or "Listen only". You will typically want "Microphone"
unless you really never expect to talk via voice (would still be
possible), for example if your microphone is broken or if this is a
talk which you are just attending.
Then you will arrive at an "echo test": normally, you should hear
yourself talk. The echo test takes a while to load, you will see
"Connecting to the echo test..." for a few seconds. When the echo test
start, you will see a dialog that says:
> This is a private echo test. Speak a few words. Did you hear audio?
Typically, you will hear yourself speak with a slight delay, if so,
click "Yes", and then you will enter the conference. If not, click
"No" and check your audio settings. You might need to reload the web
page to make audio work again.
When you join the conference, you may be muted: click on the "crossed"
microphone at the bottom of the screen to unmute yourself. If you have
a poor audio setup and/or if your room is noisy, you should probably
mute yourself when not talking.
See below for tips on improving your audio setup.
## Sharing your camera
Once you are connected with a web browser, you can share your camera
by clicking the crossed camera icon in the bottom row. See below for
tips on improving your video setup.
## Sharing your screen or presentation
To share your screen, you must be a "presenter". A moderator
(indicated by a square in the user list on the left), can grant you
presenter rights. Once you have those privileges, you can enable
screen sharing with the right-most icon in the bottom row, which looks
like a black monitor.
Note that Firefox in Linux cannot share a specific monitor: only your
entire display, see
. Chromium on Linux does not have
Also note that if you are sharing a presentation, it might be more
the presentation. Click on the "plus" ("+"),
leftmost icon in the bottom row. PDFs will give best results, but that
feature actually supports converting any "office" (Word, Excel, etc)
Such presentations are actually whiteboards that you can draw on. A
moderator can also enable participants to collaboratively draw over it
as well, using the toolbar on the right.
The "plus" icon can also enable sharing external videos or conduct polls.
## Connecting with a phone
When you join a conference with a web browser, at the top of the chat
window, you should see a message that looks something like this:
> Dial in number is 123.456.7890.
> SIP dial in URI is firstname.lastname@example.org.
> Confrence PIN is 0000000.
The "Dial in number" actually allows other participants to call in a
phone number (redacted as "123-456-7890" above) and then enter a
conference PIN (redacted as "0000000" above) to enter the call with
any plain old telephone or cellular phone. Users may need to unmute by
hitting the "zero" ("0" on the keypad) on their phone.
<!-- more in-depth procedure that may require interpretation -->
## Hosting a conference
To host a conference in BBB, you need an account. Ask a BBB admin to
grant you one (see the
to find one) if you do not
already have one. Then head to
You should end up in your "Home room". It is fine to host ad-hoc
meetings there, but for regular meetings (say like your team
meetings), you may want to create a dedicated room.
Each room has its own settings where you can, for example, set a
special access code, allow recordings, mute users on join, etc. You
can also share a room with other users to empower them to have the
same privileges as you.
Once you have created the conference, you can copy-paste the link to
others to invite them.
## Breakout rooms
As a moderator, you also have the capacity of creating "breakout
rooms" which will send users in different rooms for a pre-determined
delay. This is useful for brainstorming sessions, but can be confusing
for users, so make sure to explain clearly what will happen
beforehand, and remind people before the timer expires.
A common issue that occurs when breakout room finish is that users may
not automatically "rejoin" the audio, so they may need to click the
"phone" button again to rejoin the main conference.
## Improving your audio and video experience
Remote work can be hard: you simply don't have the same "presence" as
when you are physically in the same place. But we can help you get
Ben S. Kuhn
wrote this extraordinary article called "
How to make
video calls almost as good as face-to-face
" and while a lot of its
advice is about video (which we do not use as much), the advice he
gives about audio is crucial, and should be followed.
How to make video calls almost as good as face-to-face
Ben S. Kuhn
This section is strongly inspired by that excellent article, which we
recommend you read in its entirety anyways.
### Audio tips
Those tips are critical in having a good audio conversation
online. They apply whether or not you are using video of course, but
should be applied
, before you start going into a fancy setup.
All of this should cost less than 200$, and maybe as little as 50$.
**quiet work environment**
: find a quiet room, close the
door, and/or schedule quiet times in your shared office for your
meetings, if you can't have your own office
if you have network issues,
**connect to the network with cable**
cable instead of WiFi, because the problem is
more likely to be
than your uplink
more likely to be flaky wifi
let you hear your own
, that is: normal headphones without noise reduction, also
use a headset mic -- e.g.
which will sound better and pick up less noise (because closer to
You can combine items 3 and 4 and get a USB headset with a boom
mic. Something as simple as the
Jabra EVOLVE 20 SE MS
should be good enough until you need professional audio.
Jabra EVOLVE 20 SE MS
headsets because it introduces a
because it will introduce reliability and latency
Then, as Ben suggests:
> You can now leave yourself unmuted! If the other person also has
> headphones, you can also talk at the same time. Both of these will
> make your conversations flow better.
This idea apparently comes from
founder -- who prominently featured the idea on his blog: "
mute, get a better headset
Don't mute, get a better headset
### Video tips
Here are, directly from from
, notes specifically
about video conferencing. I split it up in a different section because
we mostly do
meeting and rarely open our cameras.
So consider this advice purely optional, and mostly relevant if you
actually stream video of yourself online regularly.
> 6. (~$200) Get a second monitor for notes so that you can keep Zoom
> full-screen on your main monitor. It’s easier to stay present if
> you can always glance at people’s faces. (I use an iPad with
> Sidecar for this; for a dedicated device, the right search term is
> “portable monitor”. Also, if your meetings frequently involve
> presentations or screensharing, consider getting a third monitor
> 7. ($0?) Arrange your lighting to cast lots of diffuse light on your
> face, and move away any lights that shine directly into your
> camera. Lighting makes a bigger difference to image quality than
> what hardware you use!
> 8. (~$20-80 if you have a nice camera) Use your camera as a
> webcam. There’s software for [Canon], [Fujifilm],
> [Nikon], and [Sony] cameras. (You will want to be able to
> plug your camera into a power source, which means you’ll probably
> need a “dummy battery;” that’s what the cost is.)
> 9. (~$40 if you have a smartphone with a good camera) Use that as a
> webcam via [Camo].
> 10. (~$350) If you don’t own a nice camera but want one, you can get
> a used entry-level mirrorless camera + lens + dummy battery +
> boom arm. See [buying tips].
This section is more involved as well, so I figured it would be better
to prioritise the
part (above), because it is more important
Of the above tips, I found most useful to have a second monitor: it
helps me be distracted
during meetings, or at least it's easier
to notice when something is happening in the conference.
## Testing your audio
Big Blue Button actually enforces an echo test on connection, which
can be annoying (because it's slow, mainly), but it's important to
give it a shot, just to see if your mic works. It will also give you
an idea of the latency between you and the audio server, which, in
turn, will give you a good idea of the quality of the call and its
But it's not as good as a real mic check. For that, you need to record
your voice and listen to it later, which an echo test is not great
for. There's a site called
built with free
, which provides a client-side (in-browser) application to
do an echo test. But you can also use any recorder for this purpose,
or any basic sound recorder.
built with free software
You should test a few sentences with specific words that "pop" or
"hiss". Ben (see above) suggests using one of the
To quote Ben again:
> If those consonants sound bad, you might need a better windscreen,
> or to change how your mic is positioned. For instance, if you have a
> headset mic, you should position it just beside the corner of your
> mouth—not directly in front—so that you’re not breathing/spitting
> into it.
## Pager playbook