Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 .

computer

We’re huge fans of WebRTC at Switch Communications–it’s used in both of our products.  One reason we love it (among many) is for the high-quality audio it provides for our customers. Using the Opus codec to transmit sound, and in our case — voice, over the Internet, WebRTC gives both Switch.co and UberConference crystal clear audio with very little delay.

In the spirit of the WebRTC Conference happening in San Jose this week, today’s post will cover what the Opus codec actually is and why we’re excited to be able to use it in our web communication products.

 

What is the Opus codec?

A codec is what translates sounds into digital data and carries it across the network to make voice over IP work. The Opus codec, in particular, is a totally open, free, and versatile audio codec, designed for speech and music transmission over the Internet. Compared to other codecs out there, Opus has the ability to adapt to available bandwidth for highest possible quality audio with low delay. Developers can use it under liberal, royalty-free licenses, making it accessible at little to no cost and easy to implement into other internet applications.

 

What Opus does for Switch.co and UberConference

When building Switch.co and UberConference, our priority was to improve the current state of business phone calls and create the best possible experience for our users. Part of this meant implementing WebRTC into our products for rich sound and high-quality calls through the browser. Opus gives us the opportunity to communicate over the Internet in real-time with superior quality, regardless of the type of network link our customers are using. We no longer need to know whether the customer’s network will support wideband audio or only narrow band. The Opus codec will determine the optimal bandwidth and fidelity settings based on the network path and continually adjust in real time. This flexibility makes it easy for us to still have high-quality business calls away from our desk and on our personal devices.
Going to the WebRTC Conference and Expo this week? Check out our CEO Craig Walker’s keynote on how WebRTC opens doors for new capabilities and offers on Thursday at 10am.

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

 

Monday, October 15th, 2012 .

Spreading your nasty germs around the office is a great way to upset your coworkers. But for some reason people still come into work when sick. They may just not have the time off, feel obligated to be there for the big meeting or perhaps just can’t get enough of their cubicle?…Whatever the reason, don’t be that guy/gal!

Seriously, stay home.

You can still get your work done, rock the big meeting and keep everyone else happy with the mighty power of today’s conference calling technology.

Here are 3 tools we recommend:

  1. ÜberConference (obvi) – our free conference call tool provides the audio solution for your meeting as well as the visuals so you know who’s saying what on the call.
  2. GoogleDocs or Box.net both let you share your PowerPoint or other presentation documents with your coworkers.
  3. For note-taking and audio-saving capabilities, well, we DO integrate with Evernote so that one is an obvious choice.

What we’re saying here is that there is ZERO need to come in. So stay home, rest up, take some zinc and still get your work done.

Talk it over with your boss or coworkers if you have to, but if they care anything about their own health, they’ll likely thank you forconferencing it in.

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. 🙂

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013 .

At UberConference, I do a ton of calls – usually 1 or 2 every day. I’ve been doing conference calls since I was 21. I began my career in sales, selling hardware and software for a Fortune 500 Chicago tech company.

This was 1999, and one of the things that the company didn’t tell me, when they were recruiting me, was that I’d be spending 7 or 8 hours a day on sales calls, on the phone. (It was pretty naive of me to assume that being a corporate account manager meant something other than that, huh?). I really wish that before I’d taken that job, and before I’d started my own business, that I got a bit of sales advice about conference call outcomes.

Six weeks into the job, when I began taking my first sales phone calls, small business customers called in over what was called “the sequencer.” Essentially, it was the company’s 1-800 number; marketing then consisted of hundreds of thousands of computer hardware and software catalogs, mailed to pretty much every company in the USA with more than 5 employees.

Sometimes you got a great sales call off of the sequencer – perhaps you’d get a 5-laptop order, worth roughly $100 in commission.  Sometimes it was someone cold-calling from Miami trying to order 20 laptops – those deals were nearly always fraudulent.

The goal of these early calls was “sell something on every call.” What I didn’t realize, at the time, was that the goal of every sales call is definitely not “to sell something.” It’s to help the buyer make a yes-or-no decision that they feel really good about.

One thing I’ve learned in sales, especially from reading Skip Miller’s books, Proactive Selling and Proactive Sales Management, is that the sales process involves getting agreement from the buyer (and everyone that works with the buyer) on a series of intricate yes-or-no decisions. Yeses are great. No’s are pretty darn good, too. It’s the “maybes”, says Miller, that will kill you.

When a sales meeting results in a “no,” it means that the seller has encountered what’s called a “basic objection.” Usually, it’s one of 4 problems: buyer has no need, buyer has no budget, buyer has no authority, or buyer has no urgency. Most of the last three are linked to the first one – the fact that the buyer either has no genuine need, or the seller did a lousy job helping the buyer figure out if he had any need.

If the meeting doesn’t end in a “yes” or a “no” on the next buying action, then the meeting was not a successful meeting. The fancy name for maybes, in sales, are “continuances.” What they really are is a failure to accomplish anything substantial in the sales meeting.

When you’re planning a sales meeting, meeting objectives is much easier, if you think of everything from the buyer’s perspective, and the buyer’s objective. Here are four questions to ask yourself when doing your sales meeting prep:

  1. What qualifies as an advance to the next stage in the buying process on this call? How will I know when my buyer has advanced to that next stage?
  2. What critical yes/no decisions would my buyer need to make in this meeting?
  3. Have I communicated the meeting’s agenda to my buyer in advance, and adequately prepared the buyer for the meeting?
  4. Do I have validation from the buyer that the meeting’s agendas meet his buying objectives, business pain and need?

One other thing that I do after my calls – immediately after the end of the call – is allow an extra 10 minutes on my calendar to do a wrap-up. This is where I enter the necessary info into my CRM system (Salesforce), and plan what decisions I’d need to help my customer make on the next call. Give that a shot the next time you finish a sales UberConference – I think you’ll be pretty surprised by the results.