Join us for our weekly series of short talks: nf-core/bytesize.

Just 15 minutes + questions, we focus on topics about using and developing nf-core pipelines. These are recorded and made available at https://nf-co.re , helping to build an archive of training material. Got an idea for a talk? Let us know on the #bytesize Slack channel!

This week, James Fellows Yates (@jfy133) will present: Gather Town

This is the platform that we have used for recent online events, That we will use again for the upcoming hackathon.

He’ll do a full walk through of how to sign up, and, well - walk through the event!

Video transcription :::note The content has been edited to make it reader-friendly :::

0:01 (host) Hey, everyone. Thank you for joining us for yet another bytesize talk. I’d like to begin by thanking the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative for funding all nf-core events. Some little reminders, as always, the bytesize will be recorded and uploaded on our YouTube channel as well as shared on Slack. Feel free to find it later on those platforms. And feel free to also ask questions at the end of the bytesize talk using our chat platform on Zoom or unmuting and posing questions. The talk will be roughly around 15 minutes followed by a live demo. Feel free to ask questions after or during the presentation talk. Today, we’ll be having James Fellows Yates, who is a bioinformatician at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, who will be taking us through Gather Town, which is a video calling space that allows you to hold multiple conversations in parallel. This is in line with the hackathon that we’re going to have this week. Over to you, James.

1:05 Thanks very much. I will be talking today about Gather Town, which is what we’re going to be using for the hackathon, which starts tomorrow. You can check all the information details on the nf-core website, nf-core events. And I’ll be introducing today the platform we’ll be using, giving you a quick run-through of how you can get set up and then how to use it most effectively and particularly for our event. As Simeon just said, Gather Town is basically a piece of web conferencing software, a bit like Zoom, but with a twist, because it allows you to actually be in a space with a little avatar, walk around, interact with people in a much more natural way, much more like in real life, rather than just staring at everyone’s faces.

1:52 We found in the past that that has worked really, really nicely for actually making these online conferences much more fun. This is a screenshot of exactly what it looks like. You can see in the bottom right-hand corner, there’s my video screen, just as you were on Zoom, but also there’s a second version of me, a mini-me, at the top here. This is how we will be, basically, the space that we’ll be exploring in a bit in the live demo part. To join the nf-core Gather Town, for security reasons, we’ve put password protection on there. If you want to join, firstly, go to the nf-core Slack, so you can join this with the nf-core link on the slide. Then you have to go to the Gather Town channel and just say hi. Then someone will basically press a little button, which will allow you to receive privately a link to the workspace and also the password to access it, such as this.

2:56 Something very important to say is that you can also use the space outside of the hackathon, you can use it for any nf-core-related meetings or Nextflow meetings, and that’s completely okay. But if you’re going to use a space for yourself and any other guests you may bring along with you, make sure that they adhere to the code of conduct, which you can also access on the website or on the link that you get in the message from the Gather Town workflow.

3:21 Once you’ve got the password and the link, you can go to the link, this is the first thing you’ll see if it’s the first time you’ve joined. You enter the password, as it asks, Then you can create your little avatar. You can pick different clothes, different accessories, different colors, and so on and so on, very much like Pokemon or Zelda or something like those games nowadays. Then you can make your name. We ask generally to put your full name here, not your shortened name or a nickname, because it makes it harder when we’ve got 60 to 100 people in the same workspace to find them. If you put your full name, that’d be really helpful.

4:01 Then you’ll get to this page, where you have to give permission to your browser, if you’ve not used this before, to allow Gather Town to access your microphone and camera. Normally, if you’re on Chrome, you should get a button like this, and you press allow and it should go straight forward, then you can test here, and it will tell you if you see. You should be able to see yourself, and when you’re talking, you should see this green bar here going up and down. In some cases, we have some experiences for OSX users that you have to grab additional browser permissions, you have to go into the OSX system settings flat under the privacy section to allow that. But often people recommend to use the desktop app instead, that often runs much better and much smoother. That is available. Go to the Gather Town website to get that.

4:50 Once you’ve completed giving permission to everything, you’ll be then be sent to an onboarding platform, if this is the first time you’re using Gather Town, and basically it will give you a little tutorial on how everything works. Just follow the instructions or skip if you think you remember your Pokemon days. Once you’ve completed the tutorial, you should arrive in the nf-core office space, which should look something like this.

5:17 Now I’m going to give a live demo, and hopefully it won’t crash as often these things do, of what this looks like and how to use everything. Of course Zoom is covering the button. Here we go. I’ll turn off my video here in Slack, no not Slack, in Zoom. There you go. Sorry if I’m not looking at the camera, but it’s on my other window. This is the nf-core office, as you can see by the nice logo at the top. You can walk around with your arrow keys. You should also be able to see this with the arrows on my screen. This is how you can basically move around. When you arrive, this general space is the nf-core office. However, we have a bigger space for the hackathon. To go there, you can go into this door to the right. We’ll have an arrow to indicate that next time. This is the main nf-core lobby. If you ever have any questions about the event or anything like that, you can go up the information board here. For any interactive object in Gather Town, you can press X to load this. In this case, this should open the nf-core hackathon webpage. You can see all the information there.

6:44 Now we’ll show you why you have this nice interaction thing, why it’s a bit more natural. With Maxime, as you can see at the moment, you can’t see Maxime’s video. You can’t hear him or anything because we’re too far away. But as we’re close to each other, you should start seeing him to start appearing. And you can see him. And if he keeps talking and saying something, and I walk away, you can’t hear him now. If he keeps talking as I come closer again… (Maxime: I was just saying that Sarek is the best pipeline in the world!) as we don’t want to hear that. This makes it a very nice way to actually have conversations, move between groups, join conversations as necessary. This is really nice. For the hackathon we have different rooms. We have the classroom on the left, Group 1 and Lecture Hall. I’ll go into one of these as an example.

7:35 Here we have our first classroom. This will be for people who are completely new to Nextflow and completely new to nf-core. It’s a space to do self-learning together, follow tutorials that exist already either by Seqera or nf-core. And you can go step by step together and do this group learning exercise there. Another nice thing is that in most rooms, we have these whiteboards, which if you go up and press X, it should load something like this. This is a cross-collaborative whiteboarding software that Gather Town offers. You can write things here, but you can also, collaboratively write things, draw pictures and images or draw diagrams if you need to help each other work out what’s going on. These should save and be persistent between usage. There you go, you can see on the left, we’ve got a graffiti artist going on there. We’ll leave that. The classroom is specifically for people who are completely new and want to just get started with Nextflow or nf-core.

8:39 But for the main topic of the hackathon, we will have four different groups and each different group will be assigned to one of these rooms. If we go here, you see it’s basically the same thing. It’s a bigger space, we can have more people, but you still have the whiteboards. The nice thing about the tables is if we go into the tables, anyone sitting around the table can hear each other, but when you’re moving away, well, that’s not working here, I need to check that, but basically, everyone sitting around the table will be isolated with themselves. People standing away from the table will not be able to hear the conversations in the board. That means you can also have everybody still in the workspace working on their own things, we can have teams who are not interfering with each other, which is a really nice feature.

9:24 I can maybe show you that back in the lobby if Maxime comes with me. Or, okay, this should work, I’m not sure if it’s not working here, but theoretically, it’ll work. (Maxime: I think we just forgot to put some private spaces in the room. I’ll do that later.) Yeah, good. Then in addition to the classrooms or group rooms, our main room for all the check-ins, check-outs, talks, and presentations is here in the lecture theatre. You can see at the top here, there’s Matthias already there giving us a dance recital, very kind of him, and Maxime as well. The important thing here is that anyone standing on those orange dots by the pedestals is projecting to the whole room. You can see that Matthias, for example, has this little orange icon on, Maxime as well, saying that everybody in that room can hear him. This overrides this proximity communication bit.

10:22 On the right hand side, we have the second… the one on the main platform is for the speakers. If you ever have any questions, you can go and line up over here, exactly, nice queue. Whoever’s standing on this orange bit will also be projected the room. if you have any questions during the talk, you can come up here to ask your questions. Now, the final room we can go into is where we have all the social activities, this is here in the nf-core cafe. Here’s a good example of the private space around all the tables. We’ll make sure this is everywhere. Anyone not in this square of the green square there cannot hear us. But if Maxime comes in, now he comes in, he can now join the conversation. And so, you have these private conversations as you want.

11:15 Other things about the user interface, there is also text chat if necessary. You can see this here. If you ever need to refer to the code of conduct, that’s at the top here. You can change between different ways of chatting with people, either private chat to everybody in the entire space, like the entire world and also any people in your close proximity. Another thing you can do is let’s say you are lost. There’s a little mini-map down here, which can tell you where you are, and it’ll point out where anybody else is. particularly in bigger spaces, if you can’t find someone, you can look here. You can also search for people or follow people if necessary. Let’s say, you know, I want to meet Matthias, I can press follow here. Automatically, my little avatar will go and walk towards him in the fastest route possible, then we can run. Also, I can keep following him if he wants to lead me somewhere. If you’re a bit too nervous and get stuck or lost, you can just follow people, that speeds things up as well. If at any point you get stuck, you can also… let’s say, I come here, I can’t walk through Matthias, but if I need to walk through Matthias because it’s too big of a crowd, if I hold down G, I can then walk through the person. I turn them into a ghost, so G for ghost, and you can get through them. If you ever get stuck, that normally will help you with this.

12:36 If you ever need to share your screen, you can also press this button down here. This is a typical Chrome method of sharing screen, as you should be familiar with. This would be slightly different depending on which browser you’re using, but generally it’s pretty easy. Otherwise, I guess the last thing is if you want to learn how to dance, if you hold down Z, then you can dance. Finally, if you ever want to exit Gather Town, all you have to do is close the tab and you’re finished. If you load the link again, it should load you back in the same place. You may have to log in if you don’t save your cookies, as normal. It might take a moment. There we go. We’re back in the same place. Just as a reminder, if you have any problems or you need access, or rather about the event, go to the nf-core website, go to events, Hackathon - March 22, and all of the information should be in here. Otherwise, that’s me done. Are there any questions?

14:09 (host) Looks like there are no questions yet.

(speaker) Normally, the best way is just to try it out yourself and shout on Slack if you have any problems.

(host) I think everyone is saying it was pretty much clear. Yeah, I guess that being said, I’m looking forward to see everyone during the hackathon starting tomorrow. And also, as James has said, if you have any problem with Gather Town, feel free to shout it out on Slack and someone will respond to you definitely. Okay, see you guys tomorrow. Bye.