Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 .

The great thing about Google Docs is live editing by multiple users of the same document. The problem is that sometimes the editing process would be smoother if everyone working on the document could talk to each other while working.

Well, now you can.

Today we’re introducing the UberConference add-on for Google Docs. One click to get all your viewers and editors of a document on the call. Just enable the UberConference add-on within your Google Doc, and we’ll load a sidebar with your UberConference dial-in information.

Friday, March 7th, 2014 .

There you are, stuck with booth duty.  You were the last hire in the Marketing and Communications Department for your startup so you get stuck with booth duty for all three days of the trade show, for all eight hours the convention center is open.

Okay, that’s gonna suck, but on balance things are going pretty well with the company: they’ve got actual revenues, the CEO doesn’t come back to the office from board meetings with the investors looking like someone just ran over his cat, there’s a ping-pong table and free beers in the employee lounge area.  Best of all, you’ve paid rent on time six months in a row.

And then this guy shows up — the Swag Hog.  He’s got a couple of complimentary grocery size bags he snagged at other booths, and they are stuffed with knick knacks and branded office supplies from booths all around the convention center.   And he’s got a major haul going on in those bags.  Free stuff from all over the trade show: pens, note pads, key chains, USB flash drives, bottle openers, coffee mugs, cell phone covers, stress balls, breath mints, cheesy sunglasses, aluminum water bottles, Post-It Notes, and, of course, more shopping bags he can use to grab more stuff.  Some booths even give away popcorn because the smell draws people to their booth.

First of all, what is swag?  Originally, swag meant a bouquet of flowers, and then later came to mean the loot stolen by a thief or a burglar.  Then it came to mean the bundle of items hobos carried with them in Australia.  Then swag (and the bag that carried these items — the swag bag) became part of the lexicon of Hollywood to describe the bag of goodies that Oscar nominees received as part of the honor of being nominated.

And here’s what separate the Trade Show Swag Hog from the ordinary trade show attendee.

1. They have way too much free stuff in their bags. In fact, they have two or three bags full of free stuff.  And the free stuff they have is from EVERY SINGLE BOOTH at the show.  Seriously, dude?  You’ve visited every single booth and taken something free from them?  Try to be at least a little selective.

2. They have a lot of pens, notepads, and other office supplies. The bags of popcorn, the fancy brochures, the water bottles: only a few of those.  But actual office supplies: tons of them. My theory? These guys work for underfunded startups and the main reason they are at the trade show is not to develop sales leads or network with colleagues or showcase a new product.  No, the main reason these guys are here is to restock the office supply cabinet for free.

3. They make the fake return visit. The Swag Hog shows up at your booth, pretends to listen to your pitch, acts interested and says he’s going to get a colleague, and takes one of your free pens and a free Post-It-Note pad with your company name on it.  He moves onto the next booth and does the same to them, then looks back at your booth.  “Oh, you’re talking to another customer?”  Time for the fake return visit.  They swoop back and pretend to look at your display, then casually grab a handful of your free pens and take off.

Here’s my proposed solution: make the swag at your booth free flowers (the original definition.)  There you go, sir, you can say: “Take this home to your wife or girlfriend.  If you have one.”  They will leave and never come back.  And not to worry.  The Swag Hog wasn’t going to be a paying customer anyway.

Thursday, March 6th, 2014 .

The new technology track for Google Apps Partner Program provides customers with apps to help them run their businesses more efficiently, and as an early partner, UberConference is  recognized for its richly collaborative service.

This partnership means that we will be provided with technical, marketing and sales support to bring UberConference to a larger audience, and we are proud to announce that our first month of collaboration has been wildly successful.

Just four weeks ago, we announced our integration with Google Hangouts. Since launching the new Hangout App on February 6, UberConference has seen more than 100,000 customer installs and over 80,000 Hangouts with UberConference in just the first month.

“We’re excited about the new tech tracks for Google Apps Partner Program, which we anticipate will make our efforts more productive, give us even greater recognition as a top partner and accelerate our joint momentum with customers,” said UberConference CEO Craig Walker.

For more information about the technology track in the Google Apps Partners Program, please read the announcement here.

Monday, March 3rd, 2014 .

unnamedLinda Beltran is UberConference’s very own Customer Support Representative. She is an asset to our entire company and her spunk and personality is legendary to our customers and team. Last week, Linda posted a video of her son (also a big personality) and it went viral.

 

Q: Please introduce yourself to the UberConference blogosphere.

 A. My name is Linda and I am the mother of 3-year-old Matthew and his little brother Kevin (aka PaPas).

Q: You posted a video last week that’s gone a little viral. Tell us about it.

A. Like all my other videos, I initially posted this one to share with friends and family. Well, they happened to share it, and the people they shared it with shared it, and so on.  I’ve always said Mateo is an old soul. The kid definitely keeps us on our toes, and this video depicts him, well, accurately.

If Mateo feels the need and has a valid argument, he will be sure to voice it. He felt he didn’t need to eat dinner since he already had lunch, and that cupcakes were a suitable compromise.

Q: Mateo wanted a cupcake? Throw down the scenario.

A. On this particular night, I went to Gramma’s house to pick him up. Gramma told me he didn’t want to eat his dinner. I let Matthew know that we would not be having a fun night unless he ate his dinner. He found some hidden cupcakes and was on a mission to have them. After a back-and-forth of “Mommy pleassseee can I have them?” and me telling him not until he had dinner, he decided to wait until I wasn’t paying attention to use those cute eyes of his on Gramma, which was not-so-secretly hilarious.

Mommy’s spidey-sense kicked in, I grabbed my phone and thought, “Let’s see where this goes.” Gramma and I had to keep a straight face. The end result was the video. He was unaware the camera was on as I was pretending to ignore him and be busy with the phone.

Q: Why does Mateo call you Linda?

A. This summer we went on a family trip to a theme park.  We came across a lost boy, who could not for the life of him tell us his name or parents’ names. We felt horrible, and as we handed him over to park staff we realized we’d never really told our boys what our names were–they only knew us as Mommy and Daddy. We didn’t want them to ever be in the same situation and not know our names, so we taught them, and they quickly learned. This made Mateo feel a little empowered.

For the most part we are still Mommy and Daddy,  but when he is serious and wants to make sure we are paying attention, we quickly become Linda and Kenneth.

 Q: When is Mateo going to visit the UberConference office?

A. Funny you mention that. Since the video has been out, we’ve been asked by numerous friends and family members if he can stop by their offices, as requested by co-workers who saw the video. They even offered to bake him cupcakes.

Let me check his busy schedule and I will get back to you on that!

Q: If  Mateo was going to be on a conference call, who would it be with?

A. If it were up to mom, Ellen DeGeneres. If we ask Mateo, he could have a pretty serious conversation with Batman, Spiderman AND Superman. Wait, I can’t forget Ironman and the guy with the ice that goes sswwooossshhh. That would be good.

Mateo is quite a tough cookie.

He is, but I want everyone to know that he isn’t disrespectful. In an effort to raise independent young adults, we let our children have a voice. I’m a new parent and I’m learning as much from my kids as they are learning from me. The arguing started way before Mateo could talk–he would let us know he didn’t like certain shoes or clothes with his baby blabber. I love seeing a little more of their personalities as they grow. Mateo has his own spunk and is becoming his own little person. I love that about him. The boys know when mom is serious and when they can engage in some healthy debate. In an effort to raise my kids with a voice, I pick my battles and sometimes let them feel like they’ve won…or at least give them the chance to try. 🙂

Friday, February 28th, 2014 .

What makes a great hold music song?  

— catchy melody

— lyrics you don’t quite know but can fake your way through

— lyrics that don’t quite make sense either

— something that could be performed by artists as varied as an 80s punk band or Perry Como.

— a song that doesn’t quite annoy you but isn’t really very good either

Of course anything by Glen Campbell is good, as well as most of the Coldplay catalog.  Believe it or not, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana could be an excellent hold music song, especially if it were covered by, say, Nancy Griffith.   Or, since we’re in that mode of thinking, how about the 80s punk classic “Don’t Wanna Know If You Are Lonely” by Husker Du… except it’s covered by Jack Johnson.

You know what else works great on hold?  Just about anything by either Dean Martin or Celine Dion.

Keep in mind here, I’m not praising this music for its musical qualities.  I’m praising it for its ability to distract you from the annoyance of being put on hold.  If you’re on hold and some hold music is playing and you aren’t singing along but instead are getting increasingly peeved, the hold music has failed.  Good hold music keeps you from entering the state of peevishment.  Which is a word I just made up.

And, having spent considerable time on hold in my frequently misbegotten life, I’ve come up with four songs that really are the best.

And then I thought: what else would I like to hear while I’m on hold?  For that section, I’ve added three non-songs.  They are speeches from movies that you will always enjoy listening to as you are stuck in hold purgatory.

 

Four Hold Music Classics

1. “The Girl From Ipanema”.  You’ve just called your insurance company about why they rejected a claim you made for the poweful anti-depressant meds your psychiatrist prescribed, and they put you on hold to check.   The darkness is gathering over your life, bleak thoughts of nothingness and despair fill you as you sit and wait…  suddenly, on the hold music: “Tall and tan and young and lovely the girl from Ipanema goes walking…”  And there you are, not quite so aggravated, not quite so willing to question your entire existence.  It’s a lovely day in Rio and the girl from Ipanema has just walked by, my friend.  Things are gonna be okay, even if that prescription is going to cost you $1,600 a month out of pocket.


2. “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.”  Burt Bacharach and Hal David are one of the great song-writing duos of all time.  And I have often said these words to myself while waiting for the electric company to approve an extension on my bill: “Raindrops keep fallin’ in my head, but that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turnin’ red.  Cryin’s not for me…”  The woman from PG & E then comes back on the line and before she can say anything, you say to her: “Look, regardless of what your decision is, I just want you to know that these blues they send to meet me won’t defeat me.”  There’s a long, uncomfortable pause and then she says: Okay, well, we can give you one more extension but then you have to pay the bill in full.  Thanks so much, you say, and remember, ma’am: you’re never gonna stop the rain by complainin’ because you’re free.  She hangs up, but you’re happy because your refrigerator is going to work for another month!


3. “What’s It All About, Alfie?”  Another hold music classic from Bacharach and David.  You’ve called your agent, and she’s “on the line with another client, could you hold?”  Sure, you say, because what else are you, an unemployed writer, going to say?  You’re wondering if the network liked your pilot script and are a bundle of nerves until these questions are posed by Dionne Warwick: “Is it just for the moment we live?  What’s it all about, when you sort it out, Alfie?’  You know what? you say to yourself, Dionne Warwick makes a good point.  It doesn’t really matter if this project is picked up and you suddenly are rich.  No.  It’s cool if they say no because they hate my writing because, really, what’s it all about?  Nothing, frankly.  It’s just TV.

4. “If Ever I Should Leave You” from the Broadway musical, “Camelot.”  You’ve got a quick question for your lawyer about the divorce but he’s just finishing up a conference call with a couple who are preparing a pre-nup so you’re on hold.  And then you hear these words being sung: “I’ve seen you in autumn when fall nips the air/I know you in autumn and I must be there.”  Oh, no, not in springtime,  you start belting away, summer, winter or fall… the lawyer comes on the line.  Look, you say, I’ve decided she can have all the good car and the house.

The Three Non-Songs That Should Be Part of Hold Music Rotations.

What else would I like to hear while I’m on hold?  For this section, I’ve added three non-songs.  They are speeches from movies that I would  always enjoy listening to as I am stuck in hold purgatory.


1. “I’m A God” speech by Bill Murray from “Groundhog Day.”  You know that scene late in the movie, not far from the start of the third act, where Bill Murray’s character has hit the peak of frustration over the endless loop his life has become in Punxatawny, PA, and starts to tell Andie MacDowell’s character about all the people in the diner and then tells her about herself (“You like boats, but not the ocean…”)? Could somebody play that when I’m on hold so I could listen to that instead yet another rendition of “God Didn’t Make Little Green Apples”?  Please?


2. “Was It Over When the Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor?”  In 1994, the Cleveland Indians fell behind 2-0 in the American League Championship Series on the road to the Seattle Mariners.  With the series coming to Cleveland, the Indians management played this speech from “Animal House” to the crowd at Jacobs Field in Cleveland prior to the national anthem to get the crowd pumped up.  In it, John Belushi tries to motivate his defeated fraternity brothers.  Let’s face facts, here.  If you’re on hold, it’s not because you’re awaiting good news.  You’re probably feeling a bit blue and tense and overwhelmed.  You need some Bluto, my friend.  What is called for here is that a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part.


3. “You Were Born to Be Hockey Players, Every One of You.”  Probably the greatest locker room speech of all time — and the best part is that it actually happened.  Just before the US-USSR hockey game in the 1980 Olympics, the US coach Herb Brooks (played here by Kurt Russell doing a perfect St. Paul accent), tells his players they have a shot against the greatest hockey team in the world.  I could listen to this over and over while I’m on hold with my bank as I ask them to reconsider the overdraft charges they stuck me with.