Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 .

We created UberConference to make your day more enjoyable and productive. When we launched, we joined an ecosystem of other apps that had the same mission and since then we have seen other, new apps join us. We recently decided to make a series on this blog where we recommend some of our other favorite apps in Google’s Chrome Web Store. We hope that you enjoy and find it useful!

Any.DO-Logo-+-NameAny.do: If you use dozens of post-its or a sheet of paper or a word document to keep track of your to-do list, then Any.do is going to be a much needed breath of fresh air. The app, which has a sparse and intuitive interface, is available on iOS, Android and in the Chrome Web Store, so you can keep track of your to-dos wherever you are and they remain synced. You might also enjoy some of its other features:

  1. Drag & drop to plan your agenda
  2. Add reminders, so you never forget a thing
  3. Attach notes, or use them as sub-tasks
  4. Embedded Gmail features let you quickly turn emails into actions

asana

Asana: Asana’s tagline is “Move out of email and into Asana.” While our team hasn’t completely forsaken email, Asana has cut back heavily on the back and forth and has made it much easier to track where individual products stand. One of the greatest accomplishments of Asana is how much it cuts back on meetings and needless paperwork tracking progress of projects, freeing up more time for actual work! There is a premium plan for larger teams, but the service is free if your team has less than 15 members.

Evernote_Logo

Evernote: Evernote promises to help you remember everything. It does. With Evernote, all of your notes, web clips, files and images are made available on every device and computer you use. You can use Evernote to keep yourself on track or to collaborate with your team by sharing files, notes and links.

 

Let us know what you think!

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013 .

We are happy to announce today the UberConference Google Apps Reseller Program. UberConference is a next generation audio conferencing service with a unique, visual interface. UberConference’s new channel partner program will be launching with Premier Enterprise Google Apps resellers SADA SystemsDitoSheepdogLTech andAgosto as its principal partners.

“Partnering with these world class resellers to drive end user adoption was an easy choice” said Craig Walker, CEO and co-founder of Firespotter Labs. “They have a unique combination of qualities – excellent reputations, a strong customer focus, leadership that demonstrates vision, and deep market penetration. Our launch resellers lead by example as the drivers of cloud-based services adoption and we are thrilled to be working with them.”

With its unique, visual interface, UberConference shows participants who’s on a call and who’s speaking at any given moment, and gives all participants access to every other participant’s Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook public social profiles. Features such as recording, dialing out to participants and earmuffs, which allow for sidebar conversations, as well as file sharing through Evernote, are easy-to-use. UberConference continues to introduce features that help businesses be more productive at significantly lower cost, and is investing resources in spreading the word through this reseller channel.

“At SADA Systems, we pride ourselves on bringing innovative cloud based solutions to our current and prospective customers,” said Tony Safoian, president and CEO of SADA Systems. “We are delighted to be partnering with UberConference as their offering fits our profile perfectly.”

Since its beta launch in May 2012, UberConference has significantly expanded its offerings, rolling out its premium service (UberConference Pro), and its enterprise product (UberConference Business), as well as mobile apps available for both iPhone and Android. With the launch of the reseller program, UberConference will increase its ability to engage enterprise customers and to deliver a much needed conference calling cloud solution for Google Apps customers.

Interested resellers should contact Dwight Foster atdwight@uberconference.com.

Monday, February 24th, 2014 .

We’re an innovative company so we made an innovative hire.  We’ve hired a comedy writer.

Meet David Raether, the newest member of our Marketing and Communications group. Raether, 57, has had a varied and, well, let’s just say “interesting” career prior to joining UberConference. A graduate of Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN, with a degree in English and philosophy, Raether worked as a newspaper journalist in the Upper Midwest for several years, and then he lived in Mexico and taught English in a high school there for a while. Or at least that’s what he’s telling us.

In the 80s, Raether joined computer trade magazine publisher IDG at their division in Peterborough, NH, as a publishing executive, where he was involved in the launch of nearly a dozen magazines.  After eight years there, he reconnected with an old Minneapolis friend, the comedian and actor Tom Arnold, and joined the writing staff of “Roseanne.”

Raether was a writer on 111 episodes of that ground-breaking comedy.  During his years on the show, “Roseanne” received several Emmys, a Golden Globe, and the prestigious George Foster Peabody award.  In 2012, Entertainment Weekly magazine named the Roseanne writing staff as one of the Ten Greatest Writing Rooms in television history.

In addition to “Roseanne”, Raether wrote for programs on HBO, CBS, ABC, the WB, along with pilot development for studios such as Sony, Castle Rock, and Universal. He also did feature film rewrite work for a wide variety of pictures, ranging from “Homeward Bound II” (the movie with the talking dogs and cat) to the searing Oliver Stone-produced drama “Savior” about the civil war in Bosnia. In the years following the end of his television and film career, Raether specialized in content creation and editing for a number of companies, including several Bay Area startups.

In 2013, he published a highly-regarded memoir, “Tell Me Something, She Said.”  A portion of that book was excerpted in an essay on the San Francisco-based website, Priceonomics.com.  The essay, “What It’s Like to Fail”, about his post-television years, attracted wide attention and was named one of the “Five Best Essays of 2013” by LongForms.org.  Portions of the book also have been excerpted on Salon.com and The Good Men Project’s website, as well as being featured in an upcoming edition of the Times of London magazine.

In fact, our CEO, Craig Walker, happened to read “What It’s Like to Fail” and found it compelling and brought Raether in for an interview as a writer for the company.  And now we’re stuck with him because he keeps showing up and it’s just too uncomfortable to ask him to stay home.

Raether has eight grown children, and lives in Berkeley, CA.

david picture

 

Friday, June 6th, 2014 .

There you are, sitting in your office, crunching through some dreary piece of work you absolutely have to get done today or else the company will fail and you’ll all lose your jobs and your children will starve, and as you wander the streets in desperation, (you and your family) you’ll be attacked by hordes of locusts and your bones picked clean and then the civilization in which you are an integral cog will vanish into the dust of history, so better finish that report. Or whatever it is you’re working on.

You look out the window and it’s a lovely summer day.  There’s people out there having fun!  What the…?!  There’s women out there in sundresses and sandals, walking around eating ice cream and laughing.  And there’s guys out there in tank tops and shorts, lolling around on lawn chairs, drinking beers and grilling sausages. Mmm… grilled bratwurst… That would taste so good right now.  A nice cold beer.  Yeah, that’s it.  That’s the ticket.  You just sit there and stare longingly out the window, thinking happy thoughts about women in sundresses and guys on lawn chairs and–

“Hey, how’s that project we’re working coming along?”

You snap out of your reverie.

“Oh, yeah, that,” you say to your co-worker.  “Just working on it now. Should be done with it pretty soon.”

“Good, because I’m gonna need your part of it by tomorrow morning,” your co-worker says.  “Because if you don’t turn your part of it in by tomorrow morning the company will fail and we’ll all lose our jobs and our children will starve, and as we wander the streets in desperation (you, me and all of our families) we’ll be attacked by hordes of locusts and our bones picked clean and then the civilization we are an integral cog in will vanish into the dust of history. So I guess what I’m saying is if you need to work late…”

“No problem,” you say.  “I’ll make sure you get it by the morning.”

Your co-worker moves on and you go back to day-dreaming and staring out the window and feeling, well, just sad and unproductive.

It’s summer now.  It’s hard to concentrate and sometimes hard to get work done.  If you were to Google ‘how to stay productive during the summer’ you’ll find any number of articles with helpful tips on how you can stay as productive in the summer as you were last winter when you came into work despite the blizzard and still managed to get a full eight hours of concentrated work in.

I don’t have eight tips. Or ten. Or even five.

I have one tip: take your vacation.

Americans work too many hours. Studies published on the economics website FRED showed that Americans work an average of 1,700 hours per year.  Compare that with the French (who, for some reason, are epitomized by us as the height of a leisurely approach to life), who work less than 1,500 hours per year. Which works out to way more than a month less per year than us.

Well, that’s the French, you say. Now how about the Germans? There’s a hard-working, rich and successful nation. They must be working way more than us, right?  Nope.  Germans work even less than the French!  The hard-working Germans work 1,400 hours per year, which means they are working nearly two months less per year than us.

Yet the last time I checked, the Germans still somehow managed to be driving around in BMWs, drinking excellent beer and walking on the beach in exceptionally sensible shoes and high quality black socks.

So, this summer, take your vacation. You don’t even have to go anywhere. Turn off the smartphone, set up an automated response to your email saying you are going to be out of the office for the next two weeks, and relax. Stay up too late. Sleep in. Take a nap. Eat the wrong foods. Go dancing in a smoky, crowded blues bar and not worry that you’re gonna be a wreck tomorrow. And don’t wear anything that was dry cleaned.

It will do your body and soul good. You’ll come back to work feeling refreshed and ready to take on another year.

Look, God created the entire universe and then took a day off.

So you too can take a couple of weeks off to sit in a lawn chair with your bare feet in your kids’ wading pool, a beer in your hand and bask in the aroma of bratwurst.

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.