Category Archives: Getting ready for GCMAS 2021

Important Reminders!

The conference is just around the corner, so we wanted to remind you of a few things to help you get the most of your conference experience.

First and foremost, due to the nature of the conference, we highly recommend using a laptop or desktop to access the site so that you can view details of presentations.  This is not to say that you can’t access it on cell phone – only you will have fewer options with Zoom, and you may encounter certain limitations.

Next on the list is that you will need to login to using the email you used for registration and the password sent to you.  If you have already logged in, then you will have changed your password, and you will be able to navigate the site with enhanced privileges.  Note that this is an independent website from either OpenConf or and does not support Single Sign On (SSO).  If for some reason you can’t get in, please email me directly by Monday at 4pm so that we can get you sorted.

Once you have logged in, you will want to go to the “Meeting Rooms” tab.  If you’re an author you may see some additional options, but the page will essentially look like this:

The meeting buttons

All buttons on this page will take you to what looks like an identical meeting room, but the Zoom Room buttons in each link to different meeting instances.   So if you clicked on the Monday button, you would see this by default:

The Zoom Room buttons!

Since the only scheduled event for Monday is the Student Mixer at 6pm EDT, only the “Zoom Room 2” button will work for Monday.  You can always use the large left and right arrows to scroll through the schedule without going back to the “Meeting Rooms” tab, but the Zoom Room links won’t change – only the schedule display.  If you leave yourself here overnight and come back the next day – you would still go to the Monday Zoom Rooms which would now be empty.  Instead, go back to the “Meeting Rooms” tab and choose the Tuesday button.  In short – each day’s rooms have their own independent links.  [Also, note that all times are shown as EDT which is Universal Time Coordinated (UTC) – 4 hours].

Clicking on a Zoom Room button should open up Zoom from your browser and take you where you want to go. 

A common question I have received over the past couple weeks has been: what if I want to be in two rooms simultaneously?

If your default Zoom account supports more than one meeting simultaneously (because you have personally bought this support, or your institution supports this), you will be able to open more than one Zoom sessions at once.  Otherwise, if you wish to see what’s going on in Zoom Room 1 while meeting with people in Zoom Room 2, you will need to open each from different devices. 

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the schedule will feel more interactive.  Here’s an example.  If you’ve clicked on Tuesday’s Zoom Room, and then clicked on Poster Session 1, you’ll see this:

Detailed view of schedule for poster session

So clicking on a cell in the general schedule at left will show you the specific papers or content related to the cell you clicked.  For Poster Session 1, you will then see the posters by number that are available and you will be able to access 1) the submitted abstract by clicking on the green title text, 2) the 3 minute video introducing the poster by clicking on “View Video” and 3) the PDF that goes with the video by clicking on “View Presentation”.

If you are looking at podium presentations, you will only have access to the abstracts.  The other indicators were for authors who wished to know if their work was accessible by our tech team.

Detailed view of schedule for podium session

You will also note that all sessions have two icons at the top.  The first is a link to the forum that goes with the session.  Clicking on this will take you there.  You can post questions (do it by paper number to help authors find relevant posts), and if you click subscribe, you will then be notified via email of any responses.  Although you can ask questions during the meeting, it is possible that you think of something later and want to follow up asynchronously.  Note that when the full session video is available, a third icon will show up at the top by the other two, and you will be able to watch the videos after the fact.

Zoom Room 1 will be in Webinar format.  This means that unless you are a panelist (meaning speaker or moderator), you will not be visible to others.  You can use the chat functionality to communicate with others on the side (including private chat) or the Q&A functionality to post questions to the speaker.  One of the session moderators will be monitoring the Q&A (located with other Zoom controls at the bottom of your screen) for questions, especially upvoted questions.   If a moderator selects a question, Natalie may promote you to a panelist, or may “give you the microphone” so that you can followup more easily.

Zoom Room 2 will be in Meeting format and you can find out quite a lot about how the poster sessions will run by following this link:

We’ll briefly go over all of this at the start of the meeting, and some summary videos and posts will appear on the website in the next 24 hours before the conference. 

Finally, there are some best practices that should be considered if you are a presenter who is screen sharing:

0) If you are screensharing and presenting yourself, we hope that you have come to a training over the last couple of weeks.  Please confirm with us your intentions in this regards so that Natalie our Zoom tech can keep things running smoothly. 

1) Update your Zoom to the most recent version before the meeting:  see this:

2) Close all other non-essential windows on your computer.  These run the risk of being shared by accident, and may cause you to take longer to find the window you wish to share.

3) Close non-essential tabs in the browser, especially any which have media playing.  These will eat up your computer’s CPU and possibly lead to slow downs.  Additionally, media tabs have the potential to block the microphone or camera if you need them.

4) Get a hard-wired connection if at all possible.  While most of us are on Wifi, it is still not as reliable as plugging a network cable into your laptop.

5) If at home, be the sole network user at the time.  Other people should not be using high bandwidth applications such as Zoom while you are presenting.

6) Use a headset if possible.  This can help cancel out extraneous noise, but also means that your microphone’s audio quality will be better.

7) Consider your background. Try not to choose anything too distracting if you are using a Zoom filter, and if not, plain walls (green or blue) work the best.

8) Have your presentation queued up and ready to go before the next speaker finishes.

9) Don’t be afraid to text Natalie or the moderator using the private chat if you have questions ahead of time.

If you are NOT presenting and have any questions, please direct your questions to me ( or Chris Church, our program chair (

We’re excited that this meeting is finally happening after a year of delay and look forward to seeing you shortly!
All the best,
Tim Niiler
GCMAS2021 Conference Chair

So you Need to Update Your Abstract

One of the lessons we’ve taken from our sister-society ESMAC, is that in today’s digital age, it’s often easier once abstracts are accepted to let the authors put in their own updates prior to the conference. Why allow updates to begin with? For one thing, often the presenter changes, or people notice misspellings of names, titles, or other things. Occasionally, there are typos that need correcting.

In this year’s case, some folks are putting DOIs into their references so that we can actually register their abstracts with CrossRef. They have a pesky rule that says that current works (this year – 2 years) have to have the DOIs listed to be compliant with CrossRef standards. It’s actually a good rule because it means that people can find the work you’ve referenced by clicking on a link. But it really does make it easier if YOU make the change instead of asking me to make it later on. Editing PDFs is a black art at best.

So given that you want to update your abstract, how do you go about doing this? Make whatever changes you need to your document and then convert it to a PDF. Then go to our OpenConf website, and use your submission ID to login.

You might be tempted to go to “Edit Submission”, but you can’t actually upload a new file from there. If you do wish to update some of the meta information, you can change most of it (not the title) from the “Edit Submission” page. For some reason, OpenConf won’t let you change the title.

As the person who will be concatenating this all over the next few weeks, to me the important thing is your actual PDF. If that is correct, then all is well, since that will be what is ultimately indexed by CrossRef.

If you have last minute changes to your abstract, please get them done no later than May 22nd so that I can work on getting the program book together.

Thanks to Pete Quesada for working through the OpenConf system to find out how to make updates!


Tim N

Recording your Screen

Since many of us have been online throughout the past year, we’ve all come to be familiar with the many different video conferencing solutions that are out there. What you might not know is that it is possible to use them to record a screencast directly without being in a formal meeting. This post will give you the basics of how to do it using Zoom, and also suggest some alternatives for those who might want something different.

Using Zoom

click to see video

For those of us familiar with Zoom, this method is really trivial. There are a few gotchas to look out for, but I felt it was fairly easy to do compared with other software I’ve used for the same purpose over the past year.

The first thing to note is that the yellow box in which your talking head is supposed to appear can be deleted if you’re using this method since your talking head won’t appear there. It will appear up and to the right as is shown in the image above. You can reclaim this space for content. So finish creating your content in Power Point, Google Docs, Keynote, or LibreOffice Impress, and get into presentation mode.

Next, start up Zoom. Many of us already have Zoom accounts through our institution this year. But if not, have no fear. You can get a free Zoom account and use it to create a video so long as your video is not very long.

Now that you’re in slideshow mode, and Zoom is running, click on New Meeting. You don’t have to invite anyone else, just start the meeting.

Next, check that you are not muted (button on lower left) and choose to share your screen. You will find a little green Share Screen button if you move your mouse down toward the lower frame of the Zoom window. If you have audio content to share, ensure that you check the box entitled “Share Sound” before finalizing your share. If you are just recording a voice over, this doesn’t matter. Move your mouse to the upper part of the window, and a pulldown menu will appear. Click on “More” and you will be given an option to record either to computer or the cloud. I would select “Record to Computer” as this will make it easier for you to find your work.

Make your presentation as you normally would. You might want to have a timer handy. Then when you’re done, move the mouse up to get the same pulldown menu, click “More” and then click on “Stop Recording.”

You won’t see your recording in mp4 format until you exit the meeting. Then you can upload your recording to this website if you are a poster author.

Other Software

I often use different software to do my screencasting dependent on what I need to do. There are a number of web-based alternatives you can use including ScreenCast-O-Matic. As of this writing, it required me to download and install the free app, but in the past, it has worked for me directly in the browser. If you have Office365, you can record your PowerPoint directly as shown here. The box in the lower right of the sample PowerPoint was apparently originally designed with Office365 in mind since that seems to be where the “talking head” appears. And Linux users can use Kazam (which I used to record Zoom doing its recording thing).

Whichever software you choose remember to check your sound settings, then start your slide show, and then record and present. When you finish, stop recording first, and then get out of your presentation mode.

If you have any questions or need help with the process, feel free to contact me. See you in June!

Website Update for Authors

This is just a quick note to let you know that we’ve updated the conference site for authors so that they can find poster and presentation directions without logging in. Originally, our thinking was that only authors needed to see directions for creating posters and presentations for this online conference. However, we’ve gotten feedback noting that authors often receive technical help from other members of their lab or institution, and that as such, it would be helpful to see these pages regardless of who you are.

For security reasons, only logged in authors will see the file upload menus on the left-hand nav bar. If you are an author and you haven’t yet seen your WordPress login invite, please email Tim Niiler, the conference chair ( to get an update. The initial email invites to all authors were sent out on March 15, 2021.