Tuesday, December 1, 2009

American Telemedicine Association: Guidelines Approved for Delivery of Remote Mental Health Services

VIA3 is a proud player in the healthcare industry, and will continue to grow in that arena. In general news, The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) announced the availability of formal practice guidelines for the use of videoconferencing for the delivery of mental health services. These guidelines are designed to form the standard of care for such services and will be the basis for the development and practice of uniform, effective, safe and sustainable telemental health practices. They will serve as both an operational reference and an educational tool to aid in providing appropriate care for patients.

The use of telemental health has been in existence for over 40 years. It has been used successfully as a tool for treatment in diverse areas such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), providing counseling services in rural areas and offering health medication management for institutionalized patients. A number of payers and health services are starting to offer telemental health service benefits and may soon adopt these guidelines as their basis for coverage.

The guidelines focus on the use of two-way, interactive videoconferencing in the delivery of telemental health services, which now has an abundance of significant research documenting its effectiveness as well as a comparison of outcomes between various approaches used in its delivery. Other modalities such as the use of telephones and email are not addressed in this document.

An evidence-based compendium of empirical research was first established and used as the basis for the guidelines. Both the evidence-based document and practice guidelines were developed by panels composed of experts from the field, representatives from relevant medical societies and other strategic stakeholders. The guidelines and standards generated by ATA have undergone a thorough consensus, a period of public comment and rigorous review, with final approval by the ATA Board of Directors.

The guidelines as well as the evidence-based document are available at no charge on the ATA website at www.americantelemed.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageID=3311 : .

The American Telemedicine Association is the leading resource and advocate promoting access to medical care for consumers and health professionals via telecommunications technology. ATA brings together diverse groups from traditional medicine, academic medical centers, technology and telecommunications companies, medical societies, government and others to overcome barriers to the advancement of telemedicine. ATA was established in 1993 as a non-profit organization and headquartered in Washington, DC. www.americantelemed.org

One of the reasons that healthcare organizations choose VIA3 is the low cost of purchase and ownership, the high security (HIPAA compliant), and the depth of features that nobody else provides. Corporate IM is included, as are secure document workspaces for file sharing and collaboration.

A free trial of VIA3 is available at www.VIA3.com

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

ACALLTOMEN Set to Announce New Strategic Technology Alliance at November Fund Raising Event

A CALL TO MEN (www.acalltomen.org) is a leading national men's organization addressing violence against women and the eradication of sexism. Their mission is to galvanize a national movement of men committed to ending violence against women.

Through seminars, workshops and other educational vehicles, A CALL TO MEN challenges men to reconsider their long held beliefs about women, in an effort to create a more just society. We achieve this by encouraging change in the behaviors of men through a re-education and training process that challenges sexism.

By strategizing with colleges, corporations, government agencies, non-profit and grassroots organizations across the United States, we help to organize communities in order to raise awareness and get men involved in ending men's violence against women. Our vision is to shift social norms that define manhood in our culture, and produce a national movement of men committed to ending violence against women.

In order to improve efficiency, reach, and general communication, ACALLTOMEN has entered into a strategic technology alliance with VIA3 from VIACK, which will provide widespread web conferencing benefits to its global network of 20,000. By teaming up with key corporate and individual sponsorship, ACALLTOMEN will be able to recognize impactful growth and organizational development in ways not previously available. Instead of relying on email, phone calls, snail mail, and faxes, ACALLTOMEN can now be fully connected, communicative, and collaborative with online meetings, presentations, and collaboration. Membership growth, organizational effectiveness, outreach, counseling, and connecting disparate groups will all become instantly possible.

This strategic alliance will be announced at the November 19th ACALLTOMEN meeting in New York City. Tony Porter and Ted Bunch, Co-founders of A CALL TO MEN, will be attending, as well as many known philanthropists, entertainment figures, and business leaders.

As part of the strategic technology alliance coming to fruition with the sponsors, all current and future individuals in the ACALLTOMEN network will be granted a free professional VIA3 license. In addition, all businesses associated with ACALLTOMEN will receive an exclusive price for private deployment of VIA3.

For more information on ACALLTOMEN, please visit their website at www.acalltomen.org, or email info@acalltomen. For more information on the technology or the strategic technology alliance, please email BHodges@Viack.com.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Webinars Made Easy!

Want to put on a webinar but don't know where to start? The most important thing is content... as in, WHAT are you going to put up for all the world to see?

The second most important thing is the software and hardware. If you have a web cam with a built in microphone, you are on easy street. All you need is VIA3 software. With VIA3 you can schedule a webinar, invite anyone you want (or post the URL), and conduct the meeting with all the web conferencing features you could ever want. And, if you like what you are presenting (and who doesn't), you can record it with the VIA3 IntelliRecord single click feature.

Try it free, today at www.via3.com.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Top Ten Reasons To Use Conferencing Services


1. It eliminates geographic separation

This can apply to anybody doing business anywhere. You can instantly meet with people in your organization, partners, clients, or prospective customers. With products like Reservationless 800 Conferencing, you can e-mail, text or IM a number and access code from your Blackberry or other PDA and participants can join immediately. The proximity to a geographically separated client base becomes instantaneous.

2. It improves productivity in collaborative research and development

This applies to persons heading R&D in IT, biotech, physical science, product development, marketing, or any other area. The widespread introduction of conferencing and collaboration tools over the past few years has helped organizations better improve research and development among team members. For instance, web conferencing software has allowed company employees in separate locations to collaborate on projects in real-time, greatly boosting operational efficiency. Countless organizations have benefited from this technology and seen time-to-market improve, resulting in competitive advantages not enjoyed before, reduced R&D costs, and quicker ROI.

3. It improves investor relations (IR)

This applies to any and all CFO’s and CIO’s. All public companies are scrutinized in their quarterly conference call and earnings report. When the call does not go seamlessly, it makes a negative impression on the operational aptitude of the company giving the presentation. Investors think, “What type of company has an error-prone conference call?”


The unfortunate reality is that some companies do botch the investor call, whether having not enough seats/bridges open or a complete lack of moderation/order. Often, they utilize products not geared for such large audiences and/or products that don’t support the unique needs of such an important call. The top conferencing providers have solutions geared toward investor and enterprise-level calls, and a wide variety of solutions exist to accommodate such needs and eliminate highly-visible public disasters.

4. It boosts sales - every single time.

This applies to any sales VP’s, Regional Directors, or Area Managers. Any company with multiple offices needs to have management tools in place to meet with the branch subordinates on a regular basis. As a former sales manager, I learned the mantra “inspect what you expect” very early in my career. Having regularly scheduled calls with subordinates will help prepare the organization better and teach a culture of being prepared and organized. It will also keep senior management informed on the sales activities as they are happening, instead of hearing about things in retrospect. This allows the senior sales executive the chance to act on accounts before they are possibly lost, like stepping in and offering better pricing, terms, or service level guarantees. The best organization leaders I have ever worked for personally made it a point to keep in regular contact with the field sales organization, and it showed in the results.

5. It improves corporate communication

This applies and directly affects everybody in an organization. Have you ever worked in an organization where you felt like the corporate office was a world away? Perhaps you do now, as I did at one time. The biggest difference between companies that grow successfully and those that do not is not being like-minded in goals and spirit across the organization. The most successful companies (like Google) convey a sense of togetherness and corporate culture that is inspired from a set of values, such as “thought leadership”, “customer-centric”, “caring”, etc….. The organizations that keep their main cultural values at the forefront do so by regularly communicating with their remote and regional offices. Audio conferencing and web conferencing are two of the simple ways to accomplish this high priority.

6. It speeds training and education

This applies to any C-Level who has a training requirement in their company. Organizations spend a lot of money getting new employees trained on company and industry information, internal procedures policies and methodologies. Many industries, such as education, legal, real estate, technology, manufacturing, and accounting, have initiatives that require constant training in order to maintain current standards in the respective industry. Audio and web conferencing are the dominant training tools to accomplish any organization’s e-learning initiative. Companies that utilize this technology save thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands, in hard-dollars savings from travel, accommodations, meals and gratuities, and air-fare. The often-overlooked aspect of savings in using conferencing products for e-learning is that it is a definite boost in productivity. Instead of losing several hours (at best) with flight time, your employee is able to return to work instantly.

The company that utilizes these communications tools effectively trains their workforce more efficiently, save money, and boost productivity at the same time.

7. It improves your internal marketing initiative

This applies to Chief Marketing Officers and VP’s of Sales. Companies that can roll out new products in unison to a geographically disparate workforce have a greater chance of success. The ability to introduce new offerings in a clear, concise manner and in a positive fashion can boost sales’ attitudes about the new product or direction. In addition, the marketing message is the most important differentiator in our highly competitive society. The roll-out is the marketing organization’s best time to convey those vitally important differentiators to the internal sales team as most buyers want to know “what is in it for me”. Differentiators bridge that gap to the prospect and help the sales team close deals.

8. It improves the external marketing initiative

This applies to the direct and indirect field sales force and client retention specialists/account managers. Similar to the internal benefits listed above, the same benefits apply to external customers. When you roll out new products or services, it is easier to demonstrate it in a clear and concise manner. Audio and web conferencing solutions let a sales force introduce new offerings easily without geographic limitation. Retention and service personnel within a company can use the same conferencing and collaboration tools to introduce new products, conduct account reviews, and keep connected with vital decision-makers in an organization. Since sales is all about relationships, keeping those relationships active is vital to protect your customer base and maintaining contact with the most important positions is the key.

And for companies relying on an indirect channel, frequent communication is of paramount importance when driving productivity. Effective presentation done in an entertaining way is the best method to get your channel partners pushing your product and not your competitors.

9. It offers mobile proximity

This applies to anybody with a PDA or cell phone. While it is true that cell phones often can cause a lot of static when they participate in audio conferences, sometimes the urgency of the call overtakes the immediate need for everything to be 100%. Most conferencing providers today offer mobile solutions that allow web features to be accessed from PDA’s, so that you don’t miss any aspect of the call that is taking place at that moment.

10. It will save your company money, boost productivity and is fantastic for the environment

This principle benefits everybody. Whether you measure by hard dollar savings in travel, meals, accommodations, entertainment, or soft dollar savings in areas like boosted productivity, increased sales, and better messaging, your organization will save money.
Further, it will help to lessen the carbon footprint that is of such great concern these days. Instead of consuming more fuel, conferencing adopters are making a socially-responsible decision that lessens the impact on the environment.

Less travel = less fuel = GREEN business = better for the environment.


To try conferencing for yourself, sign up for a free 15 day trial at www.VIA3.com today!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Leading Document and Training Solutions Company Uses Web Conferencing for Strategic Advantage

Michaels and Associates, a high impact custom training and documentation solution company, is thriving during a time when the industry as a whole is retrenching. As an organization, they are raising the bar for quality, while maintaining industry leading turn-around times and pricing. This level of service and deep customer focus is both appreciated and sought after by their US and International clients.

President Sherry Michaels says the firm’s success lies in making each and every customer successful, even in the toughest of environments. “We put in 100 hours of research before we even meet with a client, to know their business better than anyone. That intense business focus continues throughout our client relationship lifecycle, so we are always experts on the various topics, and delivering extremely effective, synchronized and seamless solutions.”

A client once asked Michaels what the “secret sauce” was, after being impressed by the best solution delivery they had ever seen - even though the project was hampered by extremely tough deadlines. Michaels attributes the company “secret sauce” to three main business pillars; hire the very best, fully empower each and every one of them, and make sure they produce the best solutions in the industry.

One of the main tools that empower Michaels and Associates to produce the best solutions in the industry is a feature rich web conferencing solution. Michaels and Associates use VIA3 from VIACK for their corporate communication and collaboration needs to gain a competitive advantage.

VIA3 is one of the few web conferencing solutions which include a secure corporate IM tool, which Michaels uses to connect her dispersed virtual teams. “I’m a big believer in management by walking around, which normally would be hard in an organization that has any level of virtual members. With VIA3 I can touch base on an informal basis, say hello, and have that human interaction.”

The company also enjoys rich audio and video meetings on both an ad-hoc and scheduled basis. The Media Team, for example, collaborates on VIA3 at least six hours a day, and would be “hamstrung” without it. They meet and present using the VIA3 presentation mode, where both the presentation and presenter video can be seen. They share their desktops live with the VIA3 “Shared Desktop” feature. They also brainstorm conceptual ideas together on the virtual whiteboard, as if they were all in the same physical conference room.

VIA3 also expedites the process of creating and finalizing SOW’s, or “Statements of Work”. The SOW process is complex, cuts across several service offerings, must be delivered in perfect form, and must be delivered quickly. The entire executive team is able to come together and “virtually” collaborate in real-time to write and deliver these complex SOW’s in a timeframe that would otherwise be difficult.

Because VIA3 meetings can scale to at least 2,000 attendees, Michaels and Associates will be using it for company meetings, where anyone can present or attend without having to travel. They will also be using VIA3 to meet, present, and collaborate with clients on individual projects as needed.

Michaels likens her company to an Olympic champion swimmer in an event. “In a swim match, everyone swims. What we do is get the gold medals.”


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Web Conferencing Quick Start Guide

The best quick start guide for Web Conferencing that the http://www.webconferencingcouncil.com/ has ever recommended same titled “Quick Start Guide for Web Conferencing”, available on Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/Web-Conferencing-Quick-Start-Guide/dp/1448649781/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1250795732&sr=8-1

As a test, they had a non-technical relative of one of our testers equipped with a a Dell E6400 with Windows XP, complete with built-in camera & microphone. This relative was able to start a multi-point meeting in 17 minutes, was able to share her desktop and present an online presentation (Microsoft PowerPoint) in under 25 minutes, and even started using the voting and whiteboarding features within 30 minutes - all of it witnessed but uncoached.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Video conferencing prompting all companies to cut travel

In these difficult economic times you have to consider realistic measures to cut costs and the cost effectiveness of Travel offers just such consideration.

Business culture has traditionally involved travel; whether to meetings, seminars, exhibitions or training sessions....... but there is a way to moderate that culture dramatically. There will always be the need for face to face meetings but Web Conferencing offers a credible alternative for many of these meetings that will bring major savings in cost efficiency..... and if you don't look seriously at this developing technology your competitors probably will.

Consider a situation where people gather together in a meeting room but where some from more remote locations who should be there aren't, unable to commit to travelling there, but whose input to the meeting is valued and needed. By running a web conference these remote users can be brought into the meeting and allowed to fully participate thereby achieving a much more valued experience all round. They have saved on the cost & time involved had they indeed travelled and they are able to concentrate on other important issues right up until the meeting starts and able to resume again straight after.

Then there is the situation where people need to meet up from geographically dispersed locations and where the overall cost of travel and possible accomodation is considerable, maybe even prohibitive. Again, by running the alternative web conference a very cost effective meeting can be arranged. Audio & video capability assures complete communication by users able to pick up on the normality of facial expression needed to ensure a quality experience. And of course users will have the ability to share desktop resources, applications & browsers with each other to achieve full collaboration capability.

So not only does the online web conference offer a quality and cost effective alternative to the traditional meeting but a measurable saving of your carbon footprint is achieved to ably promote your green credentials.

Bear in mind too that Web Conferencing can help bring a valuable stability to costs control when compared against the ever consistent instabilities of traditional fuel based economies.

To try a conferencing solution risk free, download VIA3 from http://www.via3.com/ and get started conferencing in just a few minutes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Saving Money with Web Conferencing (Be green, less travel!)

Results of the ACTE 2009 Business Travel Spend survey show that 71 percent of respondents plan to spend less on travel in 2009, with 21 percent reporting they will spend the same, leaving only eight percent saying they will spend more.

That's a dramatic change from the similar September 2008 survey, which found 33 percent of travel managers planned to spend less on business travel in 2009, 31 percent expected to spend the same and 36 percent planning to spend more.

Results of the ACTE 2009 Business Travel Spend survey show that the hardest-hit area of business travel is internal meetings that can constitute up to 40 percent of overall travel budgets. As a fairly direct result, the survey showed that interest in electronic travel alternatives jumped from 32 percent in 2008 to 50 percent in 2009, making it the number one ranked priority for this year.

That should result in growth for Web conferencing services, collaboration tools and some incremental growth for place-based videoconferencing systems as well. High-end telepresence systems should also get more attention, though tight capital budgets will be a counter-balancing factor.

Time is an increasingly scarce asset. The economy and competitive nature of business have forced us to seek new ways to improve revenue and client satisfaction by expanding business, managing heavier work loads and providing current clients with more personal attention—all at a lower cost. This has resulted in intense pressure to make every hour count by streamlining current business processes that are tedious, repetitious, or inefficient, and by putting people and information closer together.

In a typical scenario, a professional needs to gather input from multiple colleagues, clients, or outside experts all over the country in order to arrive at a final legal document. Traditionally, the business professional would use a variety of communication methods, such as express mail, regular mail, fax, or e-mail to send copies of this sensitive document to these individuals.

The business professional must then idly await their comments and revisions. Within several days, the business professional receives back multiple copies of the contract with everyone’s comments and revisions in separate documents. Next is the arduous and time-consuming process of trying to merge the documents and choose between conflicting revisions and multiple drafts.

If you're a company with global connections (and who isn't these days?) you don't need a calculator to figure out that if you increase virtual conferencing, you'll really take the bite out of your annual travel budget.

Web Meetings, Presentations, and Collaboration offer us both time and money savings. Many of us spend a considerable amount of time traveling either across town or across the country. In some instances, face-to face meetings are the best—or only—way to handle certain types of meetings. But not every meeting requires in-person contact, and the increasing expense and inconvenience of travel is becoming harder to justify. And that does not include the demand from clients to reduce costs.

Web collaboration with VIA3 will drastically reduce travel budgets while simultaneously improving productivity and communications between stationary employees, roaming workers, customers, partners, and suppliers.

If you want to save money TODAY, download http://www.via3.com/ and start recognizing the benefits of web conferencing!


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

“Travel by long distance and stay a while…”

Shermakaye Bass has some great insight into the benefits of web conferencing. That catchy slogan from a few decades ago touted the power of long-distance telephone calls to keep you and your close contacts closer. Now, with dozens of online-conference companies hitting the market, long-distance relations and communications have really arrived at the next frontier.

Call it web-conferencing, virtual meeting, webinar’ing or call it what you like, but chances are before long your company already is — or will soon be — conducting business meetings over long distances using online technology that links individuals from around the world, in a virtual conference room accessed in real-time from your desk.

It’s revolutionizing business travel, and trimming companies’ transportation and accommodation expenses. According to recent statistics from industry sources, many businesses are cutting their travel costs by one-third to 70 percent.

The byproduct of all this tele presence, as the techies call it, is that companies large and small also are reducing their carbon footprints. In fact, virtual meeting technology is at the juncture where technology and sustainability meet, creating not just immediate benefits in saved carbon emissions, but indicating a much larger trend in which a corporate “bottom line” dovetails with an environmental bottom line.

If you are interested in trying online conferencing, visit www.VIA3.com today to try it free!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Conference and Collaboration Technology Market Strong

Conferencing and collaboration solutions that reduce the need to travel and help businesses remain efficient are increasing in popularity today as businesses become more global.

Research firm Frost & Sullivan has released new analysis, “North American CSP (News - Alert)-based Videoconferencing Services Market,” that shows revenues of $265.4 million in 2008, an 11 percent growth over 2007’s earnings.

Through conferencing solutions, and particularly video conferencing, businesses can support a virtual workplace environment while also keeping costs in control.

Frost & Sullivan’s (News - Alert) research uncovered that the current economic slump has put pressure on IT departments to seek technologies that help business cut costs and increase workplace efficiencies.According to Frost & Sullivan Principal Analyst Roopam Jain, now is the time to adopt large-scale videoconferencing technology. "Several market forces are merging to create a market that is ripe for change," Jain said.The research also uncovered that the videoconferencing CSP-based managed services market which was at $151.3 million in 2008, is expected to reach $375.5 million by 2014.The strongest push for conferencing technologies is that they offer cost savings and ROI and as businesses push through the economic slump, they will turn to the technology as a way to reduce costs as well as improve business performance.

In addition, a growing awareness for UC technologies and support for a dispersed workforce that includes increasingly mobile workers, has increased the market potential.
Eagle Teleconferencing provides conferencing solutions that help businesses to maximize their communications and save on costs. The company’s conference call solutions are especially useful in the current climate, as they can be set up last-minute and are available around-the-clock.


To get onto the Web Conferencing bandwagon, try the product that the Web Conferencing Council (http://www.webconferencingcouncil.com/) called the "Best of breed" for 2009. Free trial, no credit card required, no risk, at http://www.via3.com/.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Web Conferencing Comes to the 2009 US Senior Open Golf Tournament with Kris Baxter

Kris Baxter, one of the underdogs that experts predict could surprise the field at the US Senior Open, will be wearing VIA3 web conferencing logos on his hat and shirt. San Jose, CA July 16, 2009 — Kris Baxter, one of the underdogs that experts predict could surprise the field at the US Senior Open, will be wearing VIA3 web conferencing logos on his hat and shirt. Corporate sponsors like VIA3 are starting to take a heavy interest in backing the rising star due to his unique ability to hit the pressure shots on the biggest of fields.

In 2008, for example, Baxter opened the Christmas Tournament at Pacific Grove in 2008 by nailing a hole in one on his very first tee shot. Because of his solid play at all aspects of the game, many of his fellow players are going to be tracking his progress. As for the rest of the world, they will have to track him online and on television. VIA3 was hoping to have his golf bag set-up with a satellite card, a small laptop, and a webcam for global users to watch him up close and personal as he played. (This type of set-up is not allowed under current golf rules).

A native of Northern California and golfer from age 7, Baxter’s game developed organically and without much of the structure and regimen of today’s players. He received his undergraduate degree at Pacific in 1980 while playing varsity golf for 4 years under the watchful eye of Dr. Albaugh. Albaugh is a well known sports psychologist who councils dozens of professional golfers and many more amateurs. His book, “Winning the Battle Within,” deals with the mental aspects of golf. The book emphasizes staying in the present while playing and eliminating negative influences. It also deals with drills and specific pre-shot and post-shot routines. Its mantra is “the perfect swing is the one you can trust.”

“You want to have a tension-free, confident strike every time,” Baxter said. “I really practice this stuff. I work on positive self-talk.” Baxter found himself shooting golf rounds better than he did when he was much younger, which is why he decided to give the Champions Tour a shot. He tried qualifying two or three previous times and finally broke through with a fantastic qualifying game. “I’m going to follow John Daly’s Cinderella story,” said Baxter, referencing Daly’s surprise win at Crooked Stick for the 1991 PGA championship. Baxter is also a successful executive with Blagency, which is a full service logo merchandise and promotion agency specializing in applying tangible media for branding, tradeshow and incentive promotions. VIA3 is available for free trial at http://www.via3.com/.


Monday, July 13, 2009

VIA3 CEO Challenges Microsoft Live Meeting to Web Conferencing “Taste Test”

Google isn’t the only software company ready to take Microsoft products head on.

Buoyed by a July 9th usability lab test which showed VIA3 heavily favored over Microsoft Live Meeting 9 to 1, VIA3 CEO Brian Hodges has formally challenged Microsoft to a “Taste Test” between the two rival products. Similar to the famous “Pepsi Challenge” which pitted the lesser known soda against the powerful Coke brand, Hodges hopes to showcase his product’s industry leading features.

In a letter addressed to Steve Ballmer at 1 Microsoft Way, Hodges asked for a product face off at a mutually agreed upon independent usability lab complete with full media and public access. “We are looking forward to going head-to-head with Microsoft Live Meeting on a national stage. We are extremely confident that VIA3’s rich web conferencing features will continue to be preferred over Microsoft Live Meeting by independent users who try them both side by side as a standalone product. The richer, deeper set of features inside of VIA3 will quickly be evident, considering that Microsoft Live Meeting requires at least two other products be added on to match our included features.”

An industry analyst present at the usability lab predicted that Microsoft would realize quickly that this is a contest they should avoid. Microsoft Live Meeting has the same problem that WebEx and GoToMeeting have; they cannot match VIA3’s depth of features. WebEx has already turned down a contest with VIA3, issued to them on June 10th of this year.

The July 9th usability lab test focused on a blend of 20 “Business Decision Makers”, “Productivity Application Power Users”, and “Productivity Application Novices”. The subjects were asked to weigh a number of factors, including Audio and Video quality, Presentation and Sharing Mode(s), Ease of Use, General Features, and more. 18 of the 20 subjects (90%) “preferred” or “strongly preferred” VIA3 over Microsoft LiveMeeting. 2 of the 20 subjects (10%) preferred or strongly preferred Microsoft Live Meeting over VIA3. None of the subjects (0%) was undecided.

One usability lab participant described using Microsoft Live Meeting as “suffocating when compared to VIA3” due to the difference of features that VIA3 offers as compared to Live Meeting. Hodges later likened that comment to Plato’s philosophical ‘Allegory of the Cave’. “Users accustomed to web conferencing only being a temporary online presentation are quickly realizing how much more they can accomplish with VIA3’s additional communication and collaboration tools. Once you upgrade to VIA3 from the limited solutions like Live Meeting, WebEx, or GoToMeeting, you don’t look back.”

As of time of printing, Microsoft has not accepted, nor commented on the VIA3 challenge.

Want to decide for yourself in advance of the “taste test”? VIA3 from VIACK can be downloaded free for 30 days from http://www.via3.com/. Live Meeting can be downloaded for from http://www.microsoft.com/.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

VIA3 Releases Intelligent Recording (IntelliRecord) Feature for VIA3 Web Conferencing

VIA3 announced the immediate availability of their new industry leading intelligent recording (IntelliRecord) feature for VIA3 web conferencing. This feature allows users to record individual training sessions, webinars, meetings, demonstrations, presentations, desktop sharing, and more. During the recording, VIA3 intelligently “switches” between the most relevant and recent displays, such as presentations, desktop live views, and presenter video(s). This IntelliRecord feature uses a unique next-generation intuitive algorithm for relevant predictive media selection, and gives all subsequent reviewers the most accurate view possible of the crucial conference components. VIA3 IntelliRecord is enacted by simply clicking the “Start Recording” button inside of VIA3. After this feature has been started, all of the intelligent recording is handled automatically, with absolutely no manual switching required. Users are also able to choose an audio only version of the recording, for added flexibility.

In addition to general training, sales, product demos, webinars, meetings, and desktop sharing, IntelliRecord will be greatly appreciated by our customers in the legal field, financial services, business services, and physician services. An indispensable tool for their trade, VIA3 continues to allow all the same great Presentation, Meeting and Collaboration features, with the added ability to record their meetings for documented playback. VIACK continues to see increasing opportunities to unseat existing WebEx, GoToMeeting, and LiveMeeting customers with VIA3’s superior recording capabilities, affordability, and general depth of features. For example, with VIA3 you do not need a custom player installed on your machine as WebEx does. Instead, users simply download the file to share with as many people as desired. The IntelliRecord Workspace storage option allows customers to make their videos private to only a select few or public to the world where a link can be shared with anyone.

VIA3 is available for free for one month from http://www.via3.com/. The free trial version does not require a credit card, and includes ALL features of the full VIA3 product, including the newly released “IntelliRecord”.

VIA3 was awarded the “2009 Best of Class” award for Web Conferencing solutions from the Web Conferencing Council, and with the addition of more and more features, appears to be a strong candidate to repeat next year as well. One of the leading attributes that helped VIA3 win the top award was its affordability, security, and depth of features. VIA3 offers more product features for less money over rivals such as WebEx and GoToMeeting.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Viack Corporation Receives 2009 Best of Scottsdale Award for Software Development

U.S. Commerce Association’s Award Plaque Honors the Achievement

WASHINGTON D.C., June 8, 2009 -- Viack Corporation has been selected for the 2009 Best of Scottsdale Award in the Computer Software Development category by the U.S. Commerce Association (USCA).

The USCA "Best of Local Business" Award Program recognizes outstanding local businesses throughout the country. Each year, the USCA identifies companies that they believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2009 USCA Award Program focused on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the USCA and data provided by third parties.


About U.S. Commerce Association (USCA):


U.S. Commerce Association (USCA) is a Washington D.C. based organization funded by local businesses operating in towns, large and small, across America. The purpose of USCA is to promote local business through public relations, marketing and advertising.


The USCA was established to recognize the best of local businesses in their community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations, chambers of commerce and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to be an advocate for small and medium size businesses and business entrepreneurs across America.


SOURCE: U.S. Commerce Association


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Polycom

Polycom was co-founded in 1990 by Brian Hinman and Jeffrey Rodman, who were colleagues at PictureTel when they decided to form Polycom.

The first SoundStation conference phone shipped in 1992. The original SoundStation was followed by versions offering extended performance (SoundStation Premier, Premier Satellite, SoundStation EX). The SoundStation first shipped internationally (to the UK) in 1993, followed by other products and an expanding list of countries.

The SoundStation was superseded by the SoundStation 2 in 2004 when AT&T discontinued its DSP16A processor on which the SoundStation was based. Due to technological advancements during the nearly 10-year period, the SoundStation 2 exhibited more features, and more robust performance and sound transparency, although still limited to 3 kHz audio bandwidth due to its conventional analog POTS connection. At this time, it was also supplemented by the SoundStation 2W wireless speakerphone, which was a DECT system (WDCT in North America), and by the SoundStation VTX1000 wired speakerphone, the first such speakerphone capable of 7 kHz audio operation over conventional POTS telephone lines.

In December 2001, Polycom acquired ASPI networks, a company specializing in installed voice systems. Polycom worked with a large number of audio visual integrators offering its Vortex product. In 2007, Polycom introduced the Vortex successor, the Polycom SoundStructure Series.

In 1998, Polycom entered the circuit-switched desktop phone business by introducing a line of its SoundPoint phones. In the third quarter of 2001, Polycom entered the IP desktop phone business by launching the SoundPoint IP 500. Because it does not manufacture its own call server, Polycom has phones use Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) to connect to more than 25 different call control platforms. Today, Polycom offers a full line of desktop IP phones from the entry level (SoundPoint IP 320) to a color display, full-featured, HD Voice (first introduced to the SoundPoint line in 2006), applications-enabled phone targeted at executives (SoundPoint IP 670). The company continues to expand its line of desktop and conferencing solutions.

In the first quarter of 2001, Polycom introduced its first Voice over IP conference phone, the SoundStation IP 4000. In 2008, the SoundStation IP 6000 and SoundStation IP 7000 models were introduced, both of which offer Polycom’s HD Voice and Acoustic Clarity Technology. In 2003, Polycom introduced its first HD Voice product, the SoundStation VTX 1000 conference phone. Polycom HD Voice is wideband audio (audio bandwidth extension to 7, 14, 20, and 22 kHz) offering more than twice the clarity of narrowband voice (3 kHz). In 2006, Polycom introduced its Communicator, the C100S, which was the industry’s first wideband speakerphone for a PC.

In 2007, Polycom acquired SpectraLink Corporation in Boulder, Colorado. SpectraLink’s product lines were comprised of Wi-Fi and proprietary wireless telephone systems as well as the KIRK digital enhanced cordless telephony (DECT) product line.

In 2008, Polycom also added applications enablement to its SoundStation and SoundPoint IP phones. The first product to market was the company’s Productivity Suite, which the company currently offers an open API for third-party developers.

In 2009, Polycom Voice Communications introduced two video-enabled products. The VVX 1500 business media phone, which is the first device to combine a personal video conferencing system with a fully featured voice over IP (VoIP) telephone with Polycom HD Voice and an open application programming interface (API) and microbrowser for real-time delivery of personalized Web content as well as integration with business applications. It also launched the CX5000 unified conferencing station by licensing the distribution rights for Microsoft Roundtable.

In most cases, Polycom is considered to be a stand-alone solution that is mutually exclusive to Web Conferencing. Adding secure, flexible collaboration to your VTC infrastructure that ties together conference rooms and remote workers has been extraordinarily difficult, depending on what solution you try. It is a VERY desired, and often requested feature, however, because of the flexibility it brings. Normally you are locked into a fixed point hardware intensive solution (Polycom, Tandberg, Sony, etc.) or a roaming point software solution (Web Conferencing Solutions)

During the course of us testing this, we had a very limited number of good experiences with a few solutions, including VIA3, which ended up winning Best of Class. VIA3 integrates easily and included everything we wanted—live video, telephone-quality audio, application viewing, joint document editing, instant messaging, and information sharing—while leveraging the existing H.323 teleconferencing equipment already in-place.

How VIA3 does it:

This solution is easy to implement, because most commercial VTC units have the ability to switch audio and video “sources.” Instead of dedicating the VTC room’s camera and microphones to a VTC “call” it can initiate or receive a “call” and utilize a VIA3 meeting on the PC as the source for audio and video. Once it does that, the VIA3 PC’s desktop with video can be shown, while the audio can also be heard in a standard VTC call. More importantly any remote users equipped with VIA3 and an internet connection can easily join the VTC meeting that the VIA3 PC is hosting! This feature allows you to quickly and effectively tie in partners, suppliers, customers, traveling sales teams, home workers, etc.

The physical act of connecting VIA3 to a VTC node is an easy one. The VIA3 PC is connected to the VTC Hardware as an “alternate source” for both audio and video. (Most VTC units have alternate source inputs and output available as AUX-IN and AUX-OUT for both Audio and Video.)

When connecting video, the VTC unit can select the PC as a video source and display the contents of the computer screen in a H.323 session with another VTC room in another location. You can also choose for VIA3 to use the VTC room’s camera as the “webcam” for a VIA3 meeting, if you wish.





To try VIA3 free for 30 days, visit http://www.via3.com/

Monday, June 8, 2009

VIA3 CEO Calls Out WebEx Pay-Per-Use Meetings “Price Gouging”

For $23.75 per month, VIA3 gives meeting users 1200 times more minutes than Cisco WebEx "Pay-Per-Use”.

(San Jose, CA) June 8, 2009: In a speech to a user group in San Jose, VIA3 CEO Neil Woodruff pointed out a glaring discrepancy in web conferencing pricing between VIA3 and Cisco WebEx’s “Pay-Per-Use” meeting model (which is priced at 33 cents per minute per user, plus an additional 20 cents per minute per user for the inclusion of teleconferencing). Using the example of VIA3 pricing of just $23.75 a month for everything, Mr. Woodruff pointed out the amount of minutes a user could enjoy with VIA3’s all inclusive plan is 43,200 vs. Cisco WebEx’s paltry 72.

With Cisco WebEx’s Pay-Per-Use meeting service, a user could only get slightly under 72 total minutes of WebEx web conferencing. Here’s the catch: It would have to be a WebEx meeting with no one else attending. To actually have two people in meeting, you would be limited to just under 36 meeting minutes per month, compared to the VIA3 all inclusive $23.75 price. This means that Cisco WebEx users are faced with either radically curtailing their conferencing, or spending much higher amounts of money than originally expected or budgeted for.

With VIA3, a user gets 43,200 minutes in a typical 30 day month for presentations, meetings, collaboration, training, or webinars. Literally, the entire month is available for VIA3 users to conduct unlimited conferencing with unlimited attendees, 24 hours a day. When compared to the 36 minutes of a two person meeting in Cisco WebEx Pay-Per-Use, VIA3 offers 1200 times more minutes in a month. The numbers get even worse for Cisco WebEx if you add more than one person to your meeting. Even if you only have occasional meetings, VIA3 makes much more sense than Cisco WebEx Pay-Per-Use Meetings.

Mr. Woodruff also notes that VIA3 offers more features than WebEx Pay-Per-Use Meetings. “Not a day goes by that we don’t hear from a WebEx customer who is startled by the final presented (WebEx) bill, and wants to find a more affordable alternative solution. They are always shocked to find VIA3 offers more features than WebEx at a fraction of the price.”

The feature discrepancy also came into the spotlight when Mr. Woodruff recently challenged Cisco WebEx to a web conferencing “taste test” to be conducted on a national scale. WebEx, at the time of this challenge, has not yet accepted.

Mr. Woodruff concluded by saying “WebEx users wanting to dramatically lower their bills with affordable, secure, feature rich web conferencing can visit http://www.via3.com to “taste test” for themselves. WebEx users who want to throw fiscal caution to the wind should continue paying dramatically more fees for fewer features at www.webex.com.”

Friday, May 29, 2009

Webinar

Webinar is short for Web-based seminar. It is basically a workshop or lecture delivered over the Web. Webinars may be a one-way Webcast, or there may be interaction between the audience and the presenters.

Webinar's are just like a conference room based seminars, however, participants view the presentation through web conferencing software or their Web-browser and listen to the audio through their telephone. A key feature of a Webinar is its interactive elements -- the ability to give, receive and discuss information. Contrast with "Webcast", in which the data transmission is one way and does not allow interaction between the presenter and the audience.

Hosting a Webinar requires the use of specialized software that enables presenter(s) to deliver an interactive presentation via the Internet (or Web). Many vendors offer Webinar services. These software applications vary tremendously in features and price. Examples of differentiating features include the ability to:
  • Use integrated audio conferencing or audio via the public Internet (VOIP) which comes out your headphones or computer speakers.

  • Let the audience see the presenter's computer screen for live product demos, training, desktop showing, presentations, and more

  • Record for later playback

  • Attendee pre-registration and reporting

  • Present audience polls and questionnaires

  • Manage live question and answer dialogs during a presentation, via group chat.

  • What are Webinars used for?

  • Webinar's are primarily used to train a large number of people or build brand and generate sales leads. Additional uses are: corporate announcements, training, focus groups, and press conferences.

What are the benefits?

  • Reach a large(r) audience

  • Reduce cost (travel, etc)

  • Digitally record, archive and allow future playback
What do I need to start a Webinar?

  1. A computer
  2. Internet access
  3. In invitation which includes a link to the webinar
  4. Web Conferencing software (free trial available for one month at http://www.via3.com/)
  5. Web Camera with built in microphone (many of them come built-in with recent laptops)
  6. A scheduled meeting (You have to send a hyperlink of your specific meeting to attendees) Usually you will want to make sure you put all attendees in “Audience Mode” so that they hear and see but cannot transmit their own audio and video. Audience mode members can interact with the webinar through group chat.
  7. A phone line for transmitting the teleconference portion, if a conference bridge is being used. (Free conferencing option inside of VIA3).

What do I need to attend?

  1. A computer
  2. Internet access
  3. In invitation which includes a link to the webinar
  4. Web Conferencing software (Temporary download for attendees)
  5. Computer speakers for audio.
  6. A phone line for listening to the teleconference portion, if a conference bridge is being used.

How can I get started?

You can get started with web conferencing software that enables webinars today. Visit http://www.via3.com/ to download the latest software, free for one month.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

VIA3 CEO Challenges WebEx to Web Conferencing “Taste Test”


Buoyed by a recent usability lab test which showed VIA3 favored over WebEx 7 to 1, VIA3 CEO Neil Woodruff has formally challenged WebEx to a “Taste Test” between the two rival products. Similar to the famous “Pepsi Challenge” which pitted the lesser known soda against the powerful Coke brand, Neil hopes to showcase his product’s industry leading features.

In a letter addressed to WebEx, Neil Woodruff asked for a product face off at a mutually agreed upon independent usability lab complete with full media and public access. “We are looking forward to going head-to-head with WebEx on a national stage. We are more than confident that VIA3’s rich web conferencing features will continue to be preferred over WebEx by independent users who try them both side by side. The higher quality audio, higher quality video, and richer set of features inside of VIA3 will quickly be evident.”

The recent usability lab test focused on a blend of 10 “Business Decision Makers”, “Productivity Application Power Users”, and “Productivity Application Novices”. The subjects were asked to weigh a number of factors, including Audio and Video quality, Presentation and Sharing Mode(s), Ease of Use, General Features, and more. 7 of the 10 subjects (70%) “preferred” or “strongly preferred” VIA3 over WebEx Meeting Center. 2 of the 7 subjects (20%) preferred or strongly preferred WebEx over VIA3. 1 of the 10 subjects (10%) was undecided.

In addition to positive press that the winning solution would receive following the web conferencing taste test, Neil is hoping to make it interesting. He has proposed that the entire executive team from the losing side wear clothing with the winning product’s logos and branding for one full month.

As of time of printing, WebEx has not accepted, nor commented on the VIA3 challenge.

One WebEx insider has separately noted that WebEx will likely avoid the taste test at all costs, to avoid exposing some competitive product deficiencies. Online presentations, for example, have been the long standing cash cow feature for WebEx, but even that is considered inferior by most reviewers. WebEx uses an import and convert process for PowerPoint slides, which can cause issues with complex features such as grouped images. These issues require a user work-around, or a simpler presentation which WebEx can handle. (This information is publicly available on the WebEx Knowledge Base, in articles like “WBX17724”). VIA3, by contrast, handles PowerPoint slides natively, in real time. The slide you present online is the actual slide, not a converted copy. These are exactly the type of product nuances that head to head competitions expose.

Want to decide for yourself in advance of the “taste test”? VIA3 from VIACK can be downloaded free for 30 days from http://www.via3.com/. WebEx can be downloaded free for 15 days from http://www.webex.com/.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Video Conferencing

A videoconference (also known as a videoteleconference or “VTC”) is a set of interactive telecommunication technologies which allow two or more locations to interact via two-way video and audio transmissions simultaneously. It has also been called visual collaboration and is a type of groupware. It differs from the standard videophone in that it is designed to serve a conference rather than just individuals.

The basic technology used in a video conference / videoteleconference (VTC) system is digital compression of audio and video (A/V) streams in real time. The hardware or software that performs compression is called a codec (coder/decoder). Compression rates of up to 1:500 can be easily achieved (at least today). The resulting digital stream of 1s and 0s is subdivided into labeled packets, which are then transmitted through a internet pipe of some kind (usually ISDN or IP). The use of audio modems in the transmission line allow for the use of POTS, or the Plain Old Telephone System, in some low-speed applications, such as videotelephony, because they convert the digital pulses to/from analog waves in the audio spectrum range.

The other components required for a VTC system include:

  1. Video input : video camera or webcam

  2. Video output: computer monitor , television or projector

  3. Audio input: microphones

  4. Audio output: usually loudspeakers associated with the display device or telephone

  5. Data transfer: analog or digital telephone network, LAN or Internet

Simultaneous videoconferencing among three or more remote points is possible by means of a Multipoint Control Unit (MCU). This is a bridge that interconnects calls from several sources (in a similar way to the audio conference call). All parties call the MCU unit, or the MCU unit can also call the parties which are going to participate, in sequence. There are MCU bridges for IP and ISDN-based videoconferencing. There are MCUs which are pure software, and others which are a combination of hardware and software. An MCU is characterized according to the number of simultaneous calls it can handle, its ability to conduct transposing of data rates and protocols, and features such as Continuous Presence, in which multiple parties can be seen onscreen at once.

MCUs can be stand-alone hardware devices, or they can be embedded right into the dedicated VTC units.

Some systems are capable of multipoint conferencing with no MCU, stand-alone, embedded or otherwise. These use a standards-based H.323 technique known as "decentralized multipoint", where each station in a multipoint call exchanges video and audio directly with the other stations with no central "manager" or other bottleneck. The advantages of this technique are that the video and audio will generally be of higher quality because they don't have to be relayed through a central point. Also, users can make ad-hoc multipoint calls without any concern whatsoever for the availability or control of an MCU. This added convenience and quality comes at the expense of some increased network bandwidth, because every station must transmit to every other station directly.

There are basically two kinds of VTC systems; Dedicated systems, and Desktop systems:

Dedicated systems have all required components packaged into a single piece of equipment, usually a console with a high quality remote controlled video camera. These cameras can be controlled at a distance to pan left and right, tilt up and down, and zoom. They became known as PTZ cameras. The console contains all electrical interfaces, the control computer, and the software or hardware-based codec. Omnidirectional microphones are connected to the console, as well as a TV monitor with loudspeakers and/or a video projector. Along with this solution comes a huge financial investment that tends to scare of most enthusiasts. There is also the risk of fast outdated technologies, which become inferior quickly as newer models come out. (This is not as prevalent in desktop systems with updating software and inexpensive hardware).

There are several types of dedicated VTC devices:


  1. Large group VTC are non-portable, large, more expensive devices used for large rooms and auditoriums.

  2. Small group VTC are non-portable or portable, smaller, less expensive devices used for small meeting rooms.

  3. Individual VTC are usually portable devices, meant for single users, have fixed cameras, microphones and loudspeakers integrated into the console.

Desktop systems are add-ons (hardware boards, usually) to normal PCs, transforming them into VTC devices. A range of different cameras and microphones can be used with the board, which contains the necessary codec and transmission interfaces. Most of the desktops systems work with the H.323 standard. Videoconferences carried out via dispersed PCs are also known as e-meetings, online meetings, virtual meetings, or web conferencing.

Desktop solutions are more flexible than dedicated systems, and are only a fraction of the cost. To try a desktop solution today, visit http://www.viack.com/ and download a free trial of VIA3 today, risk free.

Meeting

A meeting, by definition, is where two or more people come together for the purpose brainstorming, or discussing a predetermined topic such as business or community event planning. This can be in a formal setting, or a casual setting such as a coffee shop.

In business, meetings are an important vehicle for personal contact. They are so common and pervasive in organizations, however, that many take them for granted and forget that, unless properly planned and executed, meetings can be a waste of time and resources.

Meetings may be divided into many categories:
  • Status Meetings, generally Leader-led, which are about reporting by one-way communication;

  • Work Meetings, which produce a product or intangible result such as a decision

  • Staff meeting - typically a meeting between a manager and those that report to the manager (possibly indirectly).

  • Team meeting - a meeting among colleagues working on various aspects of a team project.

  • Ad-hoc meeting - a meeting called together for a special purpose

  • Management meeting - a meeting among managers

  • Board meeting - a meeting of the “BOD” of an organization

  • One-on-one meeting - a meeting between two individuals

  • Off-site meeting - also called "offsite retreat".

  • Kick-off Meeting - is the first meeting with the project team and the client of the project to go over the role of each team member

  • Pre-Bid Meeting - is a meeting of multiple competitors and or contractors to visually inspect a job-site for a future project. The meeting is normally hosted by the future customer or engineer who wrote the project specification to ensure all bidders are aware of the details and services expected of them. Attendance at the Pre-Bid Meeting may be mandatory. Failure to attend usually results in a rejected bid

Since a meeting can be held once or often, the meeting organizer has to determine the repetition and frequency of occurrence of the meeting. Options generally include the following:
A one-time meeting is the most common meeting type and covers events that are self-contained. While they may repeat often, the individual meeting is the entirety of the event. This can include a 2006 conference. The 2007 version of the conference is a stand-alone meeting event.

A recurring meeting is a meeting that recurs periodically, such as an every Monday staff meeting from 9:00AM to 9:30 AM. The meeting organizer wants the participants to be at the meeting on a constant and repetitive basis. A recurring meeting can be ongoing, such as a weekly team meeting, or have an end date, such as a 5 week training meeting, held every Friday afternoon.

A series meeting is like a recurring meeting, but the details differ from meeting to meeting. One example of a series meeting is a monthly "lunch and learn" event at a company, church, club or organization. The placeholder is the same, but the agenda and topics to be covered vary. This is more of a recurring meeting with the details to be determined.

In addition to coming together physically (face to face), communication lines and equipment can also be set up to have a discussion between people at different locations, e.g. a virtual, online, or “e-meeting”.

In an online meeting, there are a number of roles that come into play:


  1. Host: The host of the meeting is one who organizes, launches, and oversees the entire meeting. You can have multiple hosts, if you fully trust multiple participants. A host has full input and output of audio and video.

  2. Presenter: The presenter doesn’t control the meeting, but does have the ability to broadcast their audio and video, just like the Host does. Programs like VIA3 allow you to use a “presentation mode” which works perfectly for this scenario. Everyone in the meeting sees the same presentation as the presenter, including animations, video clips etc. The presentation is automatically scaled to fit each audience member's screen so everyone sees the entire slide without having to scroll.

  3. Audience Member: An audience member is one who is viewing Host and Presenter video, hearing Host and Presenter audio, but not broadcasting their own audio or video. The audience member participates in a meeting through voting and polling, as well as group chat.

  4. Temporary Member: Some programs like VIA3 allow you to invite temporary members to a meeting. Temporary users can join a VIA3 meeting and have access to VIA3 features for the duration of the meeting. These temporary attendees do not have to have a purchased seat to participate, but also do not have any features available in perpetuity, nor can they initiate a new meeting.

    In an online meeting, you can present, share your desktop, collaborate on documents, collaborate in an online whiteboard session, demonstrate a product on your machine, or simply have an A/V meeting, with multiple points of video and audio present.

    The benefits to having an online meeting are obvious: In addition to improved productivity, web Meetings, Presentations, and Collaboration offer us both time and money savings. Many of us spend a considerable amount of time traveling either across town or across the country. In some instances, face-to face meetings are the best—or only—way to handle certain types of meetings. But not every meeting requires in-person contact, and the increasing expense and inconvenience of travel is becoming harder to justify. And that does not include the demand from clients to reduce costs.

    If you are interested in trying an online meeting, rather than face to face, the first thing you need to do is try a service. VIA3 is the most affordable, most secure, most feature rich meeting software on the market today, and you can try it free for a month from http://www.viack.com/.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Webcams

So you want to communicate with people across town or across the globe. To do so you need to see and be seen. That is accomplished by using a Web Camera and some computer software. First, the web camera, or "webcam".

How does a webcam work? A small camera attached to your computer sends video images back and forth between you and another webcam user so you can have conversations just like you would if you were actually face-to-face. Communicating through a webcam is similar to using traditional video conferencing. But instead of sending images through phone lines, webcams use Internet chat programs, such as instant messaging (IM) tool, to deliver the video and sound. For example, if you wanted to talk with your best friend via a webcam, you'd both log into the same IM program and video chat in a private window that appears on both of your computers.
Setting up a webcam for the first time might seem a bit intimidating -- but getting started is easier than you think. By following a few simple steps, you'll be ready to start video chatting in no time.

Get the gear

In addition to your computer, you only need four things to connect with your family members via a webcam:

1. Camera

Webcams come in lots of shapes and sizes, but the most popular ones are eyeball cameras -- small, round devices that usually sit on your desk or on top of your monitor.

"The easiest way is to use the same type of camera on both ends of a chat," says Shane Williams, owner of a major computer retailer in southern California. "Theoretically, it shouldn't matter, but we find that people have fewer connection issues when they've got equipment from the same vendor."

While some bare-bones webcams can cost $50 or less, these baseline models won't include everything you want (like auto focus, so grandma can see you clearly). According to Williams, cameras in the $100 range should provide the features you need -- including a built-in microphone, which you would have to buy and set up separately if it's not included in your webcam. Most webcams can also take still pictures just like your digital camera. And if you're willing to part with up to $350, you can get a camera with motion sensors that, for example, let you use it as a "nanny cam" or security camera that will begin recording once it senses movement in a room.

2. Webcam software

Software enables your webcam to connect to your computer, and it is included with the camera when you buy it. One word of caution: Make sure you read the installation instructions before you plug the camera into your computer! It's rare, but sometimes plugging in the camera before the software is installed will prevent it from working properly. In recent months, it is becoming more and more common for the software and hardware to both be installed on your laptop already.

3. Internet connection

Any Internet connection will do, but broadband, such as DSL or cable Internet access, will give you the best picture and sound quality. You can connect via a hard cable, or through an invisible Wi-Fi connection.

4. Chat program

Instant messaging tools are another way to video chat with your friends and family because most are already on your buddy list and your chats will be totally private. Some of them have it built into the chat, some, like VIA3 already have video meetings that arent depending on IM.
Assuming you choose a webcam with a built-in microphone, getting it set up should only take a few minutes. Read the camera's user manual and follow the installation instructions. Next, plug the webcam into your computer (they usually attach via a USB cable). The computer should now "see" the new device and pop up a short message that tells you how to start using it.

At this point, you're ready to start using your webcam. Adjust your camera's focus -- point it toward your face, turn the focus dial until the picture becomes clear on your computer screen. To kick off a video chat session, you and your chat partner should both be online and logged into the same IM program. Send a request to your friend by clicking your program's webcam or chat icon. Once your friend accepts the invite, you'll both see each other in the small windows on your computer screen. Your conversation can begin.

Ready to start your own video and audio meetings to show off your face and new camera? Try VIA3 for free to get started, at http://www.viack.com/.

Goodbye, Brick and Mortar. Small Businesses Are Going Virtual! (PowerHomeBiz)

Article from http://www.powerhomebiz.com/News/052009/virtual-store.htm

May 20, 2009 ( PowerHomeBiz ) - San Jose, CA - Usually, if a company shuts its doors forever it’s a bad thing. When ShapiraMedia CEO Isaac Shapira closed his trendy headquarters (complete with all the “dot-com trimmings”), it was actually a sign of prosperity and productivity to come. Isaac is joining thousands of other small businesses in making the transformational leap from traditional “brick and mortar” office and retail space - a move that is paying off huge. He is able to do that by using a business collaboration and communication suite that empowers him to present, meet, and collaborate with customers, partners, and co-workers anywhere in the world. His office is now at home, and anywhere else he roams to with his laptop.

Isaac evaluated a number of solutions that were tested by the Web Conferencing Council (http://www.webconferencingcouncil.com/), and ended up selecting the same product that won the council’s best of class award (VIA3 from http://www.viack.com/) – mostly due to the affordability and richness of features. Brainstorming sessions, sales calls, PowerPoint webinars, file sharing, Audio and Video meetings, and instant communications are all at his fingertips now, making his small company act and look like a much larger entity. The best part is the cost savings; instead of paying $3,750.00 a month for office space, furniture rentals, food and supplies, etc… he now pays around $200 a month. For this 200$, Isaac has enough product licenses to give 10 employees full functionality of the web conferencing suite. His up front cost was zero, because his employees were already using laptops with built-in web cameras and microphones.

And here’s more good news; his customers love it.

First, they love the convenience of meeting and collaborating online. ”We used to make sure that all customer experiences with ShapiraMedia were off the charts productive, creative, and enjoyable for customers,” said Isaac. ”They were drinking espressos, seated in colorful beanbags, with hip music like ‘Kings of Leon’ resonating in the background. The one downside to the meetings, however, was the need for travel back and forth to facilitate in-person face-to-face interaction. That meant an unproductive element to their day, which we can now avoid by conducting these meetings online.”

Secondly, because of the tremendous savings Isaac incurred in his overhead, he is now able to pass those savings along to the customers. This results in ultra-competitive bids that are winning them a steady stream of new business. Neil Woodruff, Viack CEO, said this is a common story with VIA3 users. “The quick productivity and cost saving infusion that happened at ShapiraMedia is something our user base enjoys consistently, and immediately. Because of VIA3’s ease of use, affordability, and near-zero investment costs, businesses are able to turn on a dime from brick and mortar to online powerhouses”.

There are a number of other collaboration features above and beyond straight meetings that help ShapiraMedia. Creative projects are stored, shared, and collaborated on through the included Workspaces. All employees are a click away from each other using Instant Messaging with presence awareness. They brainstorm over images in the included Whiteboard feature. They utilize the included voting and polling feature during company meetings. They are also able to share desktop control with each other for an even higher level of collaboration.

The only thing missing?

“VIA3 doesn’t handle espressos”, laughs Isaac. “As for the colorful beanbags - those are still being used. You can see them in the background during online meetings with ShapiraMedia. Some things will never change.”

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

VIA3 for the Mac


Currently, VIA3 is optimized to run on Windows. That said, there are Viack employees and VIA3 customers alike who are running VIA3 perfectly on their Mac. The key to running VIA3 on the Mac is to have an iMac with an Intel Processor running Parallels 4.0 and Windows XP. When running Parallels, choose to "boot to one OS" instead of "run in coherence mode." In that environment, VIA3 works perfectly.


To Try VIA3 on Windows, or in a Windows environment on a Macintosh, please visit http://www.viack.com/ for a free trial.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Need Security? Don't try WebEx... "WebEx Security Vulnerability Could Allow Remote Attacks"

Great article at the http://www.webconferencingcouncil.com/ which illustrates how much security is a consideration with Web Conferencing solutions:

An ActiveX control (atucfobj.dll) that is used by the Cisco WebEx Meeting Manager contains a buffer overflow vulnerability that may result in a denial of service or remote code execution. The WebEx Meeting Manager is a client-side program that is provided by the Cisco WebEx meeting service. The Cisco WebEx meeting service automatically downloads, installs, and configures Meeting Manager the first time a user begins or joins a meeting.

As Cisco says:

“A buffer overflow vulnerability exists in an ActiveX control used by the WebEx Meeting Manager. Exploitation of this vulnerability could allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code on the user client machine. The WebEx Meeting Manager is a client-side program that is provided by the Cisco WebEx meeting service. The Cisco WebEx meeting service automatically downloads, installs, and configures Meeting Manager the first time a user begins or joins a meeting.”


If you want to use a fully secure web conferencing product, you will want to try VIA3 at http://www.viack.com/:

VIA3 was built from the ground up to offer privacy for anyone who needs to rely on the Internet for sensitive communications. VIACK uses combination of SSL (Secure Socket Layer - similar to your bank or online shopping cart) and end-to-end Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption for all data, including audio and video.

The VIA3 cryptographic module has been certified to meet Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2, a government standard for cryptographic module security requirements as defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

This commitment to privacy protects your data at every possible point whether your information is in motion or at rest in a Workspace. With VIA3, you control who can contact you or see you online. You determine the level of access each person has to your sensitive files, workspaces and online meetings. All files, meetings and data are fully encrypted.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Telecommuting


Remote employees are on the rise, and if you’re not supporting them now, you might face the challenge soon. The oft-genius Susan Harkins offers tips on how you can help your clients determine and meet those needs and protect yourself in the process:

The first thing to understand is that there are two types of remote workers: telecommuters and teleworkers.


  • Telecommuters work at a remote site, usually their home.


  • Teleworkers have access to data from home via remote access. They work onsite and at home.

Supporting the IT needs of either or both type of worker is tough. Clients are put at risk when their networks extend into employees’ homes. Another challenge is that you’re in a position to recommend and implement the technologies telecommuters need, but you generally aren’t in a position to control abuse or enforce standards. You’ll have to find a balance between your clients’ needs and your participation in the process.

Consider telecommuters’ specialized needs

PoliciesYour clients will need strict and clear policies about what their telecommuters can and cannot do. These policies should address everything from inappropriate access to company data to personal e-mail and surfing. It’s fine to allow telecommuters to use systems for personal use, as long as they’re well-educated and mature.

Keep in mind that no blanket policy is going to cover all of your clients or even all telecommuters within the same organization. Help each client define their challenges and their goals for their telecommuting employees.

StandardizationYour best support stance is to help clients standardize their telecommuting needs. You can satisfy this early process by doing the following:

Interviewing potential telecommuters. (Remember that not every position transfers well to the telecommuting environment.)

Reviewing current IT policies and standards for adaptation.

Reviewing current IT support systems to see what resources are available.

Once the needs and resources are clear, you can make recommendations within existing standards and help your client write new ones for new areas.

ConnectionsTelecommuters need the fastest and most stable connection possible. Unfortunately, don’t expect to standardize this area; not everyone will have access to fast broadband or DSL. If dial-up seems to be the only option, check into satellite connections. Those connections are unpredictable, so an emergency dial-up connection might be in order for those times when the satellite connection goes down.

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), while perhaps the best way for telecommuters to connect, are still vulnerable. Yes, they provide a point-to-point connection, but telecommuter systems still need firewalls and antivirus software. If telecommuters are working with sensitive or confidential data, suggest a Transport Layer Security (used to be Secure Sockets Layer) solution to encrypt data.

A reliable wireless option is a good idea, but it opens a new can of security worms. If your client wants this flexibility, protect yourself. If you’re responsible for supporting these devices, telecommuters must report all new devices to you. If they fail to do so, make it clear that you won’t support them or be responsible for any damage. That is a bit unrealistic — it’s like asking neighborhood parents to sign a release form before letting their children climb into your pool — but try to sound convincing. Otherwise, you could find yourself supporting any number of PDAs, smart phones, and so on, leaving you open to all kinds of headaches. Without a clear policy in place, your hourly rate will plummet (if you have a fixed fee agreement). In fact, you might refuse to support these devices at all. Many consultants and IT departments don’t.

Additional equipmentYou’ll have to recommend and support a variety of equipment beyond the PC and connections. Some telecommuters will require dedicated phone service or perhaps Voice over IP (VoIP) and videoconferencing.

You might consider deploying wideband and super wideband audio technology for telecommuters who spend a lot of time on the phone. A mobile phone is preferable for telecommuters who want to move around the house while working. Help your client decide if mobile technology is a necessity for some telecommuters.

Teleconferencing is an older technology, and it has its problems. Video conferencing is superior because telecommuters can actually participate rather than just listen. In short, telecommuters can take an active role in meetings.

Audio and video technologies are a huge undertaking and require specialization. If you don’t have the expertise, you might consider contracting that business to an expert.

In-house contactYou aren’t obligated to make judgment decisions or jump through hoops to satisfy the needs of telecommuters. Recommend that telecommuters communicate their changing needs with someone in-house rather than directly with you. Let the client decide whether telecommuters need additional hardware, software, or access options. You can always help them evaluate realistic needs and recommend solutions.

TrainingTraining is critical because, despite your best efforts, some telecommuters will be tempted to ignore policy. A well-trained and informed telecommuter is your best defense against security breaches and technical problems.

Clarify your responsibilities

Your clients will expect you to recommend and implement standards and policies for supporting their telecommuters. After implementation, you’ll support the existing program and help clients determine and adapt to changing needs. Be sure to protect yourself in the process by making your responsibilities clear.

The best way to start the process is to kick the tires. Visit http://www.viack.com/ to download VIA3 with a free 30-day trial. Where you go from there is up to you!


An Open Letter from a Viack Investor:

To whom it may concern,

Let me first set the stage and introduce myself to you. My name is Mark Gierach and I own a company called Interactive Therapy Solutions. The service we are developing helps therapists improve their productivity. Simply put, we provide internet technologies at their fingertips to communicate with each other using video conferencing, application sharing, and other tools that will make their workflow more efficient and cost effective. I have been in the business of developing interactive solution strategies for a plethora of companies before embarking on my own. In my 10 years I have recorded countless hours researching software strategies that work, work well, and some that fail before they even know it. I say this not to boast about my experiences, in fact I am confident that I will learn much more in the years to come since technology never stands still. I share this with you because I currently see the potential of a great product in Viack, be on the verge of becoming even greater. Back in July, I was introduced to Viack by a friend of mine who also happened to be a Viack shareholder. I was intrigued with the information that was shared to me about the Via3 product and how it may be a benefit for my company during itʼs development phase. After researching the Via3 capabilities, I had the privilege to meet with Neil Woodruff, the CEO. After we talked, it was obvious that this product was on the verge of breaking through to the market masses. Unless you are living under rock, everyone understands that we are facing a delicate economy. As a result, many companies are trying to find ways to reduce their expenses and become more efficient in their productivity at the workplace. Although, my immediate focus is to help the therapy industry with their communication and workflow needs, I am convinced that Viack, represented by a team so dedicated to the success of their product and service, is indeed a company I am proud to stand beside to help advance my company. It is important to note, that this decision did not happen overnight. I have had numerous talks with Neil and asked multiple questions. I have seen first hand the grit and determination both Neil and his team currently have to turn a superior product that was poorly marketed into a superior product that, when properly marketed, will be successful beyond measure. Before making this decision, I have researched similar products that are currently on the market. Few are good, and many are not. So why decide to take a risk on VIACK instead of making a “B-line” for WebEx or Go-To-Meeting?

Why would I risk putting my company in jeopardy and add further financial burdens to my team and my family? The answer is simple... VISION! I see a market that is on the verge of a major growth spurt, and I see a product that has a strong solution to meet the demands that will be expected by businesses worldwide.
Via3 is currently a strong and “secure” product, but this was not the “tipping point” for my decision.

Via3 carries something most software companies forget to build into their product - a strong foundation and the versatility for expansion as technologies advance. With Via3ʼs adaptability, they are in a position to service multiple markets without major reconstruction to their software saving time and cost of production and delivery.

As a matter fact, I firmly believe that Via3, with its ability for adaptation, will be a force to
be reckoned with within the next 2 years.

I am writing this letter to anyone who may be considering investing resources with Viack. For what this letter is worth, I hope it will add more confidence and help you =
understand and clearly see the value and potential in Viack.

I will close this letter of appeal with what I believe you will be investing in. I love sports. What I truly love about sports is how often teams with great chemistry, dedication, and the will to win, will in fact, always win... no matter how big or small the team.

Viack indeed has the chemistry, dedication, and the will to win, and that is what you are
investing in. THAT is why they will win.












Mark Gierach. CEO
Interactive Therapy Solutions
605.310.2042
mg@interactivetherapysolutions.com

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Meet the company that WebEx hates (From Amazines.com)

Every industry goliath has a "David" that serves as a perpetual thorn in it's side. Microsoft, for example, has Apple, who it both loathes and studies at the same time. Google has Yahoo (and ironically, Microsoft) in their rear view mirror. WebEx is no different, as they have a "David" sized competitor that is constantly shaking their virtual tree. This competitor is VIA3, from VIACK, a resilient Silicon Valley firm who's headquarters are just down the road from WebEx.

VIA3 was one of the very first Web Conferencing solutions to build in 128-bit AES level security from the ground up, which forced many of the larger players like WebEx to adopt similar levels of security at great expense. They are also pushing the boundaries of free trial time, purposely doubling the WebEx 15 day window to offer a 30 day free trial of their software. The feature race in general is pushing the limits of both company's development staff. WebEx had been trying to develop a corporate instant messaging system with presence detection to match the VIA3 product offering. Those plans were recently scrapped in favor of using a custom Jabber client instead, a fact which no doubt amuses and delights the VIA3 crowd. WebEx is also still charging for some workspace functionality in their offering list, while VIA3 throws it in for free.

WebEx is still charging large amounts for conference bridges, and VIA3 has a free conference call option. WebEx is still charging extra for audio (using VOIP) and - you guessed it - VIA3 throws that in for free. So far in 2009, at least one WebEx employee has defected down the road to Viack, who hopes that many more will follow.

To make matters worse, Viack also recently dropped the price VIA3 to $23.75, which is more than half the price of WebEx. WebEx also had to recently add a month-to-month subscription option in response VIA3's similar offering, and in response to consumer backlash against the restrictive WebEx contracts. One of the biggest slaps to the face came with the release of the 2009 Top Ten Vendor Recommendations from the Web Conferencing Council (www.webconferencingcouncil.com). Perennial winner WebEx lost to (and again you know where this is going) VIA3, a point which didn't escape the industry juggernaut's attention.

Russell Carter, a Colorado businessman with teleworkers in multiple states, evaluated both WebEx and VIA3, and ended up choosing VIA3 for its affordability, and depth of business collaboration and web conferencing features. "In the end, we simply couldn't justify the expense of WebEx, especially when compared to VIA3. We are a small business who watches the bottom line just like everyone else." Russell estimates that his business saves 75% with VIA3 over the estimates given to him from WebEx, and has overall seen over $100,000 dollars of travel and telephony costs reduced to nearly nothing.

Neil Woodruff, Viack CEO, welcomes the friendly rivalry with WebEx. "VIA3 gives users the best audio, video, and application sharing experience for presentations, meetings, demos, collaboration, or training. We're so confident in our solution that we actually encourage our potential customers to try WebEx first. That way, when they come back and purchase VIA3, they're an even more satisfied customer than they would have been."