With no face-to-face conferences this year, how are you connecting with others in the rail industry? (Jim Blaze)

Jim Blaze Headshot (2)

Pretty well actually is my technical answer.

About 75% via the Zoom application. Very easy to load and to use. Works well even on my iPhone. Extremely well on my 12.9 inch iPad screen. Or a regular computer.

20% using Microsoft TEAM. However, Team is a bit more critical with its free subscriber log-in process.    

Maybe 10% via Apple FaceTime.

I’m surprised that Skype is seldom chosen by any of my business contacts. Being a first innovator hasn’t seemed to help Skype gain market share?


These social connection products (services) worked out very well. Here are two examples that normally require face-to-face conferences or technical meetings.

  1. I was a team manager on a rail project that more than two dozen times linked my team visibly and audio-wise with participants located in the UK / Brazil / NY / Chicago / and Philadelphia. Almost flawless performance. Zero air travel time or expense. Out over a three to four-month period. Covering a multi-billion dollar CAPEX initiative. I’d rate this an A+ work experience among those I was privileged to engage with.

  2. As an accident investigation expert, I engaged in two different rail train legal and claim recovery cases in the past 12-months. Even working remotely via such media, I was able to save my clients considerable money without travel -- or with minimized on-site inspection travel. In one case a two-thirds potential claim payout reduction. In a second much larger potential claim, about a $600k reduction on a multi-million dollar exposure.

  3. Three times I was privileged to present my technical papers on railway market issues via live and recorded Zoom conferences. I miss the face-to-face interaction from the stage towards the audience. That is an emotional moment, not quite the same as with a software remote application experience. Somehow via TEAM or via Zoom, the personal eye to eye experience is now more “sterile,” missing a bit of stage fright “energy” one gets while on an actual stage in a big hall. And also missing the afterward more private one-on-one discussions. And perhaps a drink of wine or a sip of coffee. The little things that make-up humanity.  😎