While the COVID-19 pandemic has a lot of downsides, these circumstances are bringing about some positive changes that we have long contemplated. In the Illinois Terminal Division, we’ve just begun meeting using Zoom, an applications for videoconferencing that is free and easy to use for your computer, smartphone or tablet device. To get it, search your app store or go to https://zoom.us/download
Besides meetings, I’ve started using it to help members solve problems, consult and plan, and generally work through issues they may encounter, but can’t get immediate help with due to time, distance, or the restrictions they may face due to the pandemic. Zoom is pretty straightforward to use, so don’t be intimidated if it’s new to you.
While there has been some discussion in the media about privacy and other issues, mostly this happens when you allow it to access your contacts list and other file areas on your device. That does make it a little easier to set-up a meeting, but aren’t needed for the app to function. If Zoom requests those, just “Don’t Allow” it and it will keep working without that info
How do you connect with the ITD via Zoom? Right now, I’m the only one working this, but others may join in as they are comfortable to help. Once you have the Zoom app installed on whatever device you’re using, send a message or call me to set up a Zoom session if you have my personal contact info or send a message via Superintendent@IllinoisTerminalDivision.org
Since the ITD’s Robert Miller Memorial Library is housed here, with Zoom available I can also assist you with looking up old articles and other materials found in our collection. We have almost complete collections of Model Railroader, Railroad Model Craftsman, and Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette available among other materials. I can also use my personal library to help you, with its extensive collection of narrowgauge books, including some rare and hard to find ones.
I am generally available after 10am until late evening, although the scope of your problem may need more time to research in a few cases. One of the great features of Zoom is how you can add in additional feeds and share your screen in order to facilitate the meeting. Zoom is more than just making talking heads available for this reason.
Using Zoom, I hope that the ITD becomes more usefully available to all members in between our monthly meetings (now temporarily suspended except via Zoom), but I especially hope those who are too distant to attend can enjoy greater participation with those of us concentrated in the north part of the ITD. The upcoming May 9 at 1pm annual business meeting will be the first ITD membership meeting to be televised via Zoom. We hope to see you there, but contact us sooner if you need assistance with any prototype or model railroad-related subject or any NMRA-related topic.