Friday, February 14th, 2014 .

You know how every so often you get roped into dealing with something that you really don’t want to be involved with?  I’m not talking something life-threatening like the Ebola Virus or listening to your uncle from Wisconsin lecture you about religion while you’re stuck in a car with him going to a funeral.

No, I’m talking about the modest little peeves of modern life, the ones that really get under your skin.

For instance, you’re sitting in the cafeteria at work, and a nice conversation is going on about the Academy Awards or the California drought or something interesting like that and then some wisenheimer in the group says this: “Hey, did you see that Justin Bieber got arrested?”

Oh, boy, here we go.  Next thing you know all ten of you are talking about Justin Bieber.  Including you.  You’re stuck.  Everyone has their views and all of a sudden you find yourself  saying you blame his father because you were reading on TMZ.com that he was there in the nightclub that night and also was involved in setting up blocking off the street so that Justin and his friend could have their idiotic drag race and then somebody says, ‘well, that’s not what I heard’ and then you have defend your sources on this topic and bam!  Fifteen minutes have gone by and it’s time to return to your desk.  As you sit down you realize that the fifteen minutes you spent talking about Justin Bieber makes your teeth hurt.

And don’t think you’re alone.  Look what happened to esteemed broadcast journalist Andrea Mitchell during a discussion the other day on the NSA.  There was breaking Justin Bieber news.  Look at the pain on her face.  It’s heartbreaking, and it’s happened to you, too.

This is roughly where I rank teleconference PINs: right up there with a group discussion of Justin Bieber.  They’re both just hellishly painful, unnecessarily pointless, and yet, somehow completely inescapable.

You’re part of a design team that has several remote participants (including you) and it’s time for the weekly teleconference.  You dial into the teleconference system and they give you a PIN number you have to use to participate.  The computer-generated voice rattles off twelve completely random digits.  You’re writing them down:

8-9-5-8-1-3… oh, man, your pen stopped working.

Try it again.

8-9-5-8-1-3-8-9… the woman at the desk next to you just got a delivery of a dozen roses from her new boyfriend and she is squealing with happiness.

All right, let’s give this one more try.

Okay, you write: 8-9-5-8-1-3-8-9-4-9-7-5

Whew.  Got it.  That only took six hours.

Time to key it into your phone.  8-9-5-8-1-… wait, is that a 3 or a 5 I wrote down?  Call back and get the PIN all over again.  Yes, it was a 3.

And on it goes.

That’s why UberConference doesn’t use PINs.  You go to the website, log in, find your conference and click.  Voila.  Everyone’s there, you can see who’s there, and you’re ready to go.  It’s beautiful.  This is gonna go great, you think to yourself.

And then the person running the conference call says: “Hey, everybody, welcome to the call.  Before we get started, did you see that Justin Bieber was arrested?”

ARRRGGHH.

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. 🙂

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012 .

Leadership development consultant John Baldoni conducted a series of experiments over a decade to determine how best to keep everyone’s attention in conference calls. He found there is only one sure meeting killer and that is not involving your participants.

At least 95% of all meeting participants tune out at some point. It’s even easier on a conference call.  So if you want to not only captivate, but motivate your team, coworkers or important business contacts on your next UberConference, here are 5 great ways to pump them up for their best meeting ever:

  1. Have an agenda. No one likes having meetings just to have a meeting. If you are just touching base that is one thing, but a regularly assigned meeting for meeting’s sake is irritating to most people and can be a complete waste of time and productivity. Have a focus for the meeting before you go into it. This will help everyone get the most out of the meeting.
  2. Let everyone have a say. Even if you are in charge of the meeting, and even if you have an agenda in mind, just going on and on and not letting others have a word is just asking them to tune you out. You may also be tuning out some great insights that could help push your idea to the next level. Letting others participate in the conversation is key to keeping their attention.
  3. Give participants something to prepare before the meeting.One sure way to involve people and make them feel important is to have them look into something before the meeting. This helps them feel included and gives them something to add to the conversation.
  4. Resist the temptation to multi-task. Do not surf the net, read emails or do other things while on the conference call. People can tell, even over the phone, if you are not really paying attention. If you are not present for your own meeting no one else will be either.
  5. Drive consensus and decisions. After making sure people have been heard, formulate a plan of action while you are in the meeting. Speak back the important points covered and make sure everyone is on the same page with the next steps. Wrap up with a plan of action. People like to feel like the meeting was productive and their next moves are clear. This will help everyone feel the meeting went well.

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 .

Brian Peterson is VP of Product Engineering and co-founder at Switch Communications, specializing in web development, cloud services and databases. Before Switch Communications, Brian was at Google for eight years, where he spent most of his time working on the Google Voice team and leading the transition of GrandCentral’s technology onto Google’s infrastructure.  

Brian Peterson and John Rector, co-founders of Switch Communications

We built both UberConference and Switch.co on Google Cloud Platform using WebRTC. Our goal from the beginning was to bring innovation to some of the obvious problems with conference calls and business phone systems, making them relevant and useful again. We wanted to develop our products for the way we work today — faster, more mobile, and across multiple platforms and devices. WebRTC helped us do that.

WebRTC is a free, open project that enables web browsers (right now, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera) with Real-Time Communications (RTC) capabilities.

Why is that cool?

It’s cool because it’s a way to get very high-quality, secure VoIP to your browser (for free), without having to install any extra plug-in.

WebRTC uses the Opus Codec, which offers the best audio experience out there. Not only does it give your Switch.co and UberConference calls HD audio, but it also handles dynamic network conditions by adjusting to the available bandwith wherever you are.

UberConference was one of the earliest WebRTC adopters, launching at Google I/O in 2013 — just one week after Google released it. With WebRTC implemented into UberConference, our users can connect to their calls in real-time without having to leave their browsers and make international calls through the browser at no cost.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 12.25.34 PM (2)

For similar reasons, Switch.co uses WebRTC for voice communication through your desktop. It’s available without any extra software across Windows, Mac, Chromebooks, and even Linux, and because of its cross-platform capabilities, WebRTC allowed us to deploy the Switch.co native app instantaneously across all platforms, instead of having to build separately for each one. It allows for a more streamlined experience for developers, but also lets us roll out the app faster for users on any platform.

Because Switch.co is a Chrome web app, WebRTC is already built in and users only need to have Chrome to use it. Just like with UberConference, it gives Switch.co users HD audio and lets them call internationally for free when making and answering calls from the desktop.

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WebRTC is game changing, and it’s paving the way for whole new types of web applications like Switch.co and UberConference. We do our best to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to advancing the quality and accessibility of our products, and as the WebRTC standard becomes available in more browsers, we plan to build accordingly.