Competition results: the winner of the BT videoconferencing systems

We received an overwhelming response to our recent BT videoconferencing competition, in which we asked you to tell us who you...

We received an overwhelming response to our recent BT videoconferencing competition, in which we asked you to tell us who you would most like to have a desk-to-desk videoconferencing link with and why, writes Mark Lewis.

Entrants ranged from those who wanted to link up disparate parts of their family, to those seeking an audience with the great and the good, such as the Dalai Lama and Tony Blair.

One contestant wanted to have the chance to ask the prime minister why being in government seems to be about getting your friends into well-paid jobs and why so few MPs ever bother to turn up to the chamber of the House of Commons. Another wanted a link with the prime minister because he felt he was "out of reach".

It was a sign of these hard-working times that a large number of entrants suggested the equipment in order to carry out virtual relationships at long distance.

In one case, a man wanted to stay in touch with his girlfriend who has moved away to university. Another couple only communicate by phone and meet once a month. "It would be wonderful to not only talk to each other, but also see each other. It's the next best thing to sliced bread," wrote the contestant.

The faceless voice on the other end of a technical support line was a target that one contestant wanted brought into range by the videoconferencing link."I have spent many a wasted hour listening to this guy explaining to me, albeit politely, that all of the downtime that I have had to endure due to my computer losing data, freezing, shutting down for no apparent reason, and going into terminal meltdown every couple of months is, of course, all my fault," said one of our more exasperated entrants."

A video link would, he said, confirm his suspicion that the person on the other end of the line is, in fact, a student reading from a crib sheet.

Of all the entries received, one touching story stood out. Here we reproduce the winning entry from Mark Michalik in full.

"I have a son and daughter (aged 19 and 20, respectively) both with severe learning difficulties. They only say a few words each. They can use a little Makaton sign language. They love to chat, trying very hard to talk, but they use signs and show objects to anyone at the end of a phone.

"Their only uncle, who they adore, moved to Dublin two years ago and they try very hard to converse with him on the phone, but to be able to communicate properly with him would be heaven to them.

"I have several weeks of training coming up where I will be away and for me just to be able to ask about their day and to be able to see what they are saying would be absolutely out of this world," wrote Michalik.

"To be able to see as well as hear my kids would be the best tonic while I am training that I could ever ask for."

This was last published in April 2000

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Yeah, it would be great to come face-to-face with tech support. That way, they will be given more reasons to answer and guide you in whatever you're dealing with. But if I were asked, my ultimate dream would be a videoconference at the moon! I wonder how that'll be set up!

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