Monday, July 21st, 2014 .

Being outside of the US shouldn’t limit your ability to have a great conference call.

In order to make UberConference more accessible for our Pro users overseas, we’ve just added an international dial-in number for the Republic of Korea.

Want to know more about international calling with UberConference Pro?

1. Check our supported countries and phone numbers.
2. Dial your local access code.
3. Enter the U.S conference call number followed by #.
4. You’re in.

Simple as that.

Is your country not featured yet? You can still join an UberConference in your Chrome browser using WebRTC.

(Some country restrictions apply).

Friday, July 18th, 2014 .

Like most people in the age of planes and the internet, UberConference and its users live international lives (UberConference is available on every continent [OK, maybe all except Antarctica]).

Sometimes, though, you need to meet in person, which means you have to hop on a plane and travel. Here are some of our favorite Google Chrome Store apps for traveling.

Duolingo

We’ve found that before you head to a new country, learning the language helps you communicate better with the people who live there. The Wall Street Journal said that Duolingo is “Far and away the best free language-learning app.” Duolingo gamifies learning another language, giving you lives and points, like your favorite gaming app. The effect is that Duolingo feels less like a class and more like Candy Crush. Buona Fortuna, amici.

Duolingo_logo

TouristEye Planner

True, you are getting on that plane for business, but what’s a business trip without a little sightseeing? It’s pretty brutal. TouristEye Planner syncs all of your travel arrangements to help you plan your itinerary, letting you know what is nearby. There are also tours and itineraries created by experts and other users: one-day itineraries, shopping tours, tours to bike, gastronomic tours, best cheap eats, etc. One of the coolest features is the ability to synchronize your trip with your Android or iPhone to have your itinerary 100% offline, maps included! That means no getting lost because your carrier has a dark spot in Kiev.

Tourist-Eye-Planner3

Expensify

Undoubtedly, one of the worst parts of business travel is filling out your expense report. With Expensify, all you have to do is take a picture and smartscan uploads your receipts and corresponding information. Your office manager and you will thank Expensify after every trip.

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Wednesday, July 16th, 2014 .

hero_weather_channel

With about 1,300 employees globally and headquarters located in Atlanta, Georgia, The Weather Company is perhaps best known for its American television staple, The Weather Channel. Owned as a joint venture between NBCUniversal and investment firms The Blackstone Group and Bain Capital, the channel not only broadcasts weather forecasts and weather related news, but also features documentaries and entertainment programming related to weather. In addition to its programming on the cable channel, TWC also provides forecasts for terrestrial and satellite radio stations, newspapers, websites, and professional weather services. It also maintains an extensive online presence at weather.com and wunderground.com and through a set of mobile smartphone and tablet computer applications.

As of August 2013, The Weather Channel was received by approximately 99,926,000 pay television households (87.50% of households with a television) in the United States, making it the most common cable channel in the country.

TWC faced a business challenge that included providing a platform capable of holding the amount of people they needed on a conference bridge at a cost point that could actually scale with the business. As Nick Gardner, Senior Director of Internal Systems reflects, “We needed to be able to provide that solution to the number of employees that needs this ability on a daily basis. The amount of people in the company that need large conference bridges is very high because of different business units.”

When new employees join The Weather Company, the company holds IT training sessions to get everyone on board and show how easily their employees can go into Google Apps and UberConference to sign up for their free line. They also use Google Chromebox for meetings, where they use the UberConference integration with Google Hangouts.

“We rely heavily on Google Apps and UberConference for our day-to-day business,” Gardner said. “UberConference is one of the key pieces in our employee toolkit because it fits so nicely with Google, and it’s part of our forward-thinking technology plan.”

“UberConference usage and Google Hangouts usage across the company in general is very high,” Gardner said. “Drive and Hangouts are critical collaboration tools for us.”

The integration with Google was not the only benefit. After switching from their previous conference calling service, The Weather Company saved about 70%-75% of the cost with UberConference.

Employees are able to schedule their weekly meetings easily, and join them from anywhere. The mobile app adoption rate has been huge; it’s so much easier to get on calls on mobile devices because there isn’t a PIN number. “I request that anyone I ever have a conference call with uses my UberConference line,” Gardner said. “I’m on the road a lot, and don’t want to have to enter my PIN or punch in a bunch of random codes.”

Gardner also likes how easy UberConference is to use.

“The ease of use is also great,” he said. “Everyone gets into their calls a lot quicker

out the conferencing client. Speaking of saving time, I can set somebody up with a new conference bridge in a matter of minutes, instead of having to wait 48 hours (or sometimes more) with other services. The deployment process runs a lot more smoothly. That is a big deal to us as a fast-paced company. UberConference fills a huge gap for us and makes everyone more productive.” 

Monday, July 14th, 2014 .

shelf

There’s a powerful and remarkable management tool available to you right now. It’s in your pocket, just sitting there getting covered with lint and scratched up by your house keys.

It’s your smartphone.

And what’s even better, you can run your business without even being in the office.

How do I know?  We do it at Firespotter Labs.  Our company has launched two major products (NoshList, a restaurant seating app, and UberConference, a conference calling app) and are about to launch another product (more on that later). And most days, we rarely have a full complement of engineers, designers, and management in the office.  In fact, two days a week everyone works remotely.

There is a distinctly practical reason for this: not being in the office prevents meetings. There is nothing intrinsically evil with meetings. Sometimes, we need to get physically get together to go over where we are on projects, build group understanding and consensus on how to move forward, and to encourage personal camaraderie and a sense of teamwork.

But meetings also take up time.  Time that is diverted from working on our products.  We have found that a sometimes remote workforce that can quickly assemble in our offices is the most effective way for us to manage our company.

Here are the four key tools accessible on your smartphone that can help you  manage a staff while being mobile:

1. Use cloud-based apps for documents.  We use Google Docs for documents and spreadsheets and Dropbox and Box for sharing documents. You can fully control who has access to these documents, and who has edit privileges.  Google Docs allows us to share documents immediately without email.

2. Use a project management app.  We use Asana.  Tasks are posted, deadlines assigned, and the person responsible is listed.  Everyone knows can see what everyone else is working on and when it is due.

3. Use a chat or messaging app.  We use Gchat.  Even in the office — which is an open office with employees sitting at stations on long tables — we use Gchat to communicate with each other individually with requests, questions, etc.

4. Use a conference call app.  For obvious reasons, we use our own product, UberConference.  We conference with each other many times every day– linking each other on calls, many times with employees spread all over the country — to touch base on particular issues or to hold meetings.  It is our intimacy with the needs of businesses in conference calling applications that drives our design of this product.

All of these tools are accessible from your smartphone. You can be anywhere and with your smartphone you can use these tools to effectively manage your staff and move your business forward. Especially with remote teams in different cities, it’s the future of work.

Friday, July 11th, 2014 .

lebron-topper

So LeBron is going home to Cleveland. Or should he have said he’s going home to the 216, (which is the area code for Cleveland).

It’s about time that we begin to acknowledge that area codes have become as important a part of our identity as what NFL team’s bumper sticker we have on our second beater car. (I mean, come on, you’re not putting a bumper sticker on the nice car you driving to your cousin’s wedding in.)

In fact, with cell phones now, people hold onto their phone numbers long after they have left the place.  My oldest daughter, who went to college and worked in the San Francisco area for ten years, moved to Brooklyn four and a half years ago.  Her cell number still starts with 415, the coveted area code for San Francisco.

Why not give it up? Why not just get a New York area code?  Well, because, I believe, the area code has become a part of our identity in this era. Oh, someone says to her in New York City after she gives them her number, what area code is that?  San Francisco, she says. They’ll smile. So you’re from San Francisco? Yup, she says and smiles back.  Suddenly you know a lot more about that person than a hundred questions on a dating site will ever reveal.  It means my home is elsewhere.  This is where I live now, but I’m really from the 415.  It’s who I am.

So maybe LeBron going home to Cleveland also is about reclaiming the 216 as the authentic area code of his soul.