by Loren Seibold  |  9 February 2021  |

Every Sabbath, somewhere between 20 and 2 minutes before the beginning of our Adventist Today Sabbath Seminar is about to start, those who monitor our social media (Facebook comments and messages, email, texts and telephone) get frantic communications from people who say, “I really want to join the seminar, and I can’t get on.”

The problems vary, but usually the complaint is that “It just won’t let me on,” or “Nothing happened,” or “It told me my passcode wasn’t accepted.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if Adventist Today were so rich that we could send a tech team to your home to help you hook up? Sorry—that’s not going to happen any time soon.

Here, however, are a few things we’ve discovered.

The passcode problem

We use a passcode to prevent rascals from coming on and “zoombombing” our class. It has happened severely only once, thank goodness, and we were able to reconvene the class. From then on we have required a passcode. The passcode is always quite simple, and we always make it in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, usually 8 characters or less.

Where do you get the passcode? We give it in our AT Weekly Update newsletter, which is the easiest way for you to get it. This newsletter (which you can order here) is sent to a closed mailing list, so we feel quite comfortable giving the passcode plainly there. However, on our website, which is public, we give a passcode hint. Usually it is an Adventist name or institution, or a Bible name or word. It’s rarely anything difficult. (Once we chose a Bible name that is spelled differently in different parts of the world, which was a bit confusing. We’ve been more careful since.)

One problem is people not spelling the passcode word correctly, or not entering it in UPPER CASE CAPITAL LETTERS. Passcodes are sensitive: even though ours are no more than 8 letters, a mistake in one letter will invalidate it. If you should slip in an unnoticed space or comma, or turn the A and U around in the word “PAUL,” or enter a 1 (one) or lower-case L rather than an I, the passcode will be rejected, even if it looks almost right.

You must enter a passcode to join the class. Make sure that pop-up box that asks you for the passcode doesn’t get hidden under some other window.

Other problems

  • How is your connection? If your wifi or phone signal is weak or intermittent, that can prevent either the link or the passcode from registering correctly.
  • The one-click link is supposed to be, well… one-click: that is, you click/tap on it and it takes you to the zoom room where we’re meeting. But if that doesn’t work, try selecting and copying the link and pasting it in your browser’s address window.
  • We’ve had people using a link and passcode from a previous week’s AT Weekly Update—and they wonder why there’s no one there. Make sure you’re using the link from the current ATSS announcement or this week’s Update.
  • If you’ve not been on Zoom before, or even if you have but it’s been awhile, Zoom may need to download a program of some kind to your device. That can take some time. Don’t get impatient. They update their program for security reasons. It’s worth waiting in order to make your connection better.
  • And again, just wait. We’re used to electronic things working instantly. But that isn’t necessarily true. In this case, you’re connecting with hundreds of other people through the internet, signals going under oceans and up to satellites and back down, often several times! We don’t often think of this, but a lot of stuff is going on and it can take time. Plus, everyone is joining at about the same moment.
  • And if you still don’t get on, try again. And again. And again.
  • Sometimes, frankly, we just don’t know why it doesn’t work. Zoom probably has quirks of its own, as all software programs do. We recommend you keep trying.

Solutions?

Here’s the good news: most people get on quickly, and those who can’t get on at first usually get on eventually. What do the succeeders do?

Pretty simple: they check the passcode, check that they have the right one-click link, and then just keep trying. And trying. And trying. They wait a little longer for the connection if nothing seems to happen. And keep waiting. And should it still not connect, they try again.

Very rarely do people not get on eventually!

Things we can’t fix

Now, exactly how well Zoom works on your new Samsung phone or your 15-year-old off-brand PC, we can’t control. Why isn’t the camera turned on? Why doesn’t the audio sound right? Why do I keep cutting out? Why can’t I hear anything through these earphones? Why can’t anyone hear me through my microphone?

These things are out of our control. We’d like to help, but we’d need that personal tech team to visit your home and get you going every Sabbath—and don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

So if you can’t get on right away, don’t panic. Assume that God wants you to join with others in study and worship. Take a deep breath—and try again.


Loren Seibold is the Executive Editor of Adventist Today website and magazine.

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