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."

One More Dilbert: This time working in his underwear-



Yes, we all like to work in our underwear from time to time. Just make sure you arent roommates with a strange dog who speaks english.

If you want to work in your underwear, please visit www.viack.com for a free trial of VIA3!

Voting and Polling in a Video Conference

We all want interactive video conferences. We want to see and be seen. We want to hear and be heard. We want to chat, and IM, and share files. Demo.

But we also want to count be counted. The way to accomplish this is through "voting and polling" - a feature normally done in person or by ballot media. In a Video Conference, voting and polling is as close as a click away.

For example, in VIA3, you can click the "New Poll" button on the toolbar in any meeting, and launch a dialog box to input your poll:

In this dialog box you can input a question. "Do you approve the new budget?". "Which floorplan should we select?". "Does this shirt make me look fat?" You can ask any question you want, and any audience member, host, or presenter can choose to answer.

If multiple answers are an option, you can check the box to "allow voter to select multiple answers."

For example, if they are polling about what to have for lunch, you might have two options.

In general, online polls allow meeting members to offer instant, visual feedback to questions posed in a meeting. Polling can be used to reach a consensus or determine a baseline from which to move forward. Create on-the-fly single or multiple response polls to make your online meeting more engaging and interactive. Voting and polling within a VIA3 meeting is easy to initiate and you can share the results in real time. There are no limits to the number of polls within a meeting and each question can have up to ten responses. Once the meeting is over you can save the responses for future reference.

To try VIA3 meetings (with the voting and polling functionality built-in) visit http://www.viack.com/ today!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Admin Considerations for Web Conferencing

Network World has an interesting take on considerations that Admins, CIOs, and IT must keep in mind: A hosted SaaS model is the cheapest option but it has the lowest image quality because of bandwidth unreliability. An on-premise model relies on software installed on a company's servers, creating a smoother video experience, but it can only involve internal users. A blended model is also an option, says Pickett, where you can choose the appropriate technology for a given meeting, such as one with both external and internal participants.


Performance issues arise with certain solutions and can limit the experience. Since the SaaS model is hosted by a third party, the audio is bridged through a separate connection, creating a one- to two-second delay, which is "very annoying for users on the call," says Pickett. The on-premises model through your company's own network streams the audio and video together, fixing the synching issue. However, you can't include outside callers.


Just because you can implement this technology doesn't mean you should. Pickett says CIOs should ask themselves: Will my employees use it? While the cost benefits of reduced travel are enticing, the savings won't come to fruition unless your employees participate. Try a pilot first, assess the results, then roll it out completely.


As a CIO, think carefully before providing this service because of the complexity of the infrastructure, software, training, bandwidth and support required, says Pickett. "The perception, fueled by the very simple, easy-to-use one-to-one video conferencing built into Macs, makes [desktop video conferencing] appear trivial," he adds. Look first at how all the options will meet your business requirements and set expectations, he says.


VIA3, from http://www.viack.com/ allows you the best of both worlds. You can use the hosted solution, or an on-prem solution. Both of them are from the most affordable solution on the market today, especially considering the depth of features you receive.

Work Like Dilbert: Teleworking

Dilbert has a good handle on how to maximize free time, in terms of work life balance. If you want to try and work like Dilbert, you can do so with VIA3 from http://www.viack.com/. This tool makes you so productive, that it will save you hours a day. It also lets you avoid the commute, by conducting meetings, presentations, training, and collaboration from home.

So download VIA3 today, and change into that ugly bathrobe you threw in the back of your closet years ago. Bunny slippers are optional.

Corporate Investments in Web Conferencing Continuing


Thanks to the low- and no-cost offerings, companies have invested serious money in Web conferencing solutions, to the tune of $935 million in 2006, according to Gartner. Alongside other collaborative features such as calendaring, email, instant messaging, and presence, this capability will be available to 75 percent of corporate users by 2010.


The days when your entire team had to physically gather in one room, at a costly offsite center, or around a single desk to shuffle papers and sift through pie charts are largely over. Thanks to geographically dispersed organizations and the increased cost of business travel, Web conferencing solutions are gaining popularity for meetings, training, and presentations. “People are definitely more interested [in Web conferencing],” explains Jeffrey Mann, research vice president and agenda manager for collaboration at industry-analysis firm Gartner. Mann explains there are three main reasons why companies consider Web conferencing: money, environmental impact, and travel hassle.


Sanjeev Aggarwal, vice president for small-to-midsize business infrastructure solutions at analyst firm AMI-Partners, cites many of the same reasons for Web conferencing’s impact. “Driven by the global economic crisis, high travel costs, increases in gas prices, and natural disasters, the relevance of conferencing solutions increases enormously,” he said in a statement. “[They] help reduce costs, provide clearly identifiable [return on investment], and drive business growth.”


Hyoun Park, research editor of the technology markets group at Aberdeen Group, says companies can quantify the potential savings simply by looking at the amount of travel that would otherwise be required to bring together dispersed employees.


According to Gartner’s Mann, companies wishing to connect two or three people in a limited manner have some free options for Web conferencing. That said, he explains that if you’re looking at a standard application on a per-moderator or per-organizer model, companies can expect to lay out anywhere between $20 and $40 per month. A really big meeting of perhaps 10,000, Mann says, can “get up into a couple of thousand dollars.”


Thanks to the low- and no-cost offerings, companies have invested serious money in Web conferencing solutions, to the tune of $935 million in 2006, according to Gartner. Alongside other collaborative features such as calendaring, email, instant messaging, and presence, this capability will be available to 75 percent of corporate users by 2010, thanks to what Gartner predicts will be a 19.5 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR). SMBs will also be spending more on Web conferencing $693 million in 2012, according to AMI, a CAGR of 10.2 percent.


To try the most affordable, secure, and feature rich web conferencing solution in the industry, visit http://www.viack.com/ today!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Star Trek: The Ultimate in Video Conferencing

"ON SCREEN!"

Fans of Star Trek have always known that the beginnings of Web Conferencing were on the bridge. Every time Captain Kirk (or any other Federation Captain) needed to discuss pertinent issues with other ships, they engaged in Web, or Video Conferecing.

This continues in the new Star Trek (released today in the United States). One can’t help but be jealous of the abilities they have in this regard:














Directed by JJ Abrams, the new blockbuster aims to broaden the appeal of the cult sci-fi classic while staying true to its origins.

The movie stars Chris Pine as Captain Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Eric Bana as Nero and Simon Pegg as Scotty. The original Spock — Leonard Nimoy — also makes an appearance.

The technologies they might be using include holographic projections, large screen plasma, lifesize video rendering, agnostic networking "cloud", open communication standards, and more. (To accomplish this with all alien life forms in a seamless fashion is pretty impressive.)

To start your own Web Conference (Probably with humans rather than aliens), try the award winning VIA3 FREE for 30 days, at http://www.viack.com/


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Affordable Video Teleconferencing

Cisco CEO John Chambers doesn't just talk a good game about telepresence, the videoconferencing technology that creates the illusion you're in a room with someone who's actually thousands of miles away. He's planning to install his company's high-end system in his Silicon Valley home, provided he and his wife can agree on a spot for it.

"I figured we could convert one of the kids' old bedrooms," since they've grown up and left the house," he says. "She told me, 'You do that and you'll be sleeping in there.'"Though he's not done negotiating the location, one thing that Chambers doesn't have to worry about is cost.

As longtime chief at the networking giant, he can surely afford the installation, which can easily run north of $150,000 per room.But can his customers? Even as Chambers and rivals such as Hewlett-Packard, Polycom and Tandberg tout telepresence as the perfect tech tool to reduce travel costs and boost productivity, observers have their doubts. Sure, telepresence enables meetings on three or more huge screens, in high definition with pristine audio quality.But during a global recession, the price tag could prove too rich for many companies.

The telepresence question should get some attention when Cisco reports its fiscal third quarter results Wednesday. Though the fledgling business won't even register as a blip in the more than $8 billion in revenue Cisco likely logged last quarter, according to analysts' expectation, Chambers has highlighted telepresence as one of several ideas he hopes can eventually bring Cisco more than $1 billion in annual sales.And unlike many product lines these days, telepresence has been growing.

Earlier this year, Chambers said Cisco added 65 customers for the HD video technology in the last quarter of 2008, reaching a total of 312. Others are banking on a telepresence boom, too; AT&T sells its own flavor of the Cisco technology to business customers, and expects that to expand despite the economy. "Three years ago the proportion of video traffic on our network was next to nothing," says William Archer, chief marketing officer for AT&T Business Solutions.

"Today roughly 40% of the traffic on our networks worldwide has a video element to it."Despite its promise, telepresence is far from mainstream. And analysts aren't exactly sure how eagerly customers are adopting it, because the companies that sell the technology aren't talking much. "Most of the companies have been pretty tight-lipped" about their telepresence sales numbers, says Forrester Research analyst Henry Dewing. He suspects Cisco has sold the most immersive rooms with three or more screens, at somewhere around 1,000, but he's not sure.

Even if companies are slow to build their own telepresence studios, venues like hotels and conference centers may fill the void, charging customers to rent the service. ABR Research estimates that in 2011, this so-called managed telepresence market could top $360 million.Whether telepresence has caught on or not, early adopters are singing its praises. Erkki Reuhkala, an executive with communications equipment provider Nokia Siemens Networks, says the company is very happy with its Halo telepresence studios, which are outfitted and serviced by Hewlett-Packard. The company's far-flung executives use the system to conduct meetings that would otherwise require long flights. "We are saving on travel more than what we are spending on Halo," Reuhkala says. "We have many studios where the usage rate is around 80%."

The good news for Video Conferencing fans is that the top-ranked SaaS version of VTC software, VIA3 is not only the most feature rich, but is also the most affordable. Customers who have concerns about the expense of getting into a Video Teleconferencing solution can now have a full-fledged system without having to spend a great deal. Huge ROI, for very little TCO.

Try the award winning VIA3 FREE for 30 days at www.viack.com

Prisons seek medical cost savings

Hoping to combat rising medical costs, Illinois prison officials have quietly begun investigating a new way to treat inmates.

A review of state documents shows that Illinois Department of Corrections Director Roger Walker met late last year with a top doctor from the Texas prison system. The subject of their Dec. 11 meeting at corrections headquarters in Springfield was telemedicine, in which inmates receive medical advice from a doctor linked to the prison via video conferencing equipment.

The concept, already in use in Texas, California and elsewhere, is drawing a cautious response from the state’s largest public employee union, which represents correctional officers, nurses and other workers within the sprawling state prison system.

“We don’t know what they might be looking at. At face value we don’t believe telemedicine in a prison setting is a good idea,” said Anders Lindall, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.

Prison officials say the idea could result in some savings to taxpayers.

“That is another avenue we are looking at to combat the rising medical expenses,” said corrections spokesman Derek Schnapp.

The projected savings could come by avoiding the expense of transporting an injured or ill inmate to an outside medical facility.

At their meeting, Walker met with Dr. Owen Murray of the University of Texas Medical Board, which oversees prison medical services in the Lone Star State. Schnapp said the two discussed ways of saving money through video consultations.

Murray, an Illinois native, oversees the medical, mental health and dental services for more than 120,000 offenders within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Illinois’ prison system contains about 45,500 inmates.

It isn’t clear how much Texas saves by using telemedicine. Murray could not be reached for comment.

A survey by the U.S. Department of Justice found Illinois spent about $73 million on medical costs in 2001. That translates into about $1,605 per inmate each year.

Eight years later, Illinois officials report that the cost of health care at state prisons has risen more than 60 percent to $118 million overall, or about $2,593 per inmate.

There has already been multiple successful deployments of VIA3 for usage in the justice system, to allow for online arraignments. This usage dramatically reduces the need for travel by upwards of 95%.

To try the solution that multiple justice individuals are using to save money, visit www.viack.com and download a free trial of VIA3 today!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Is your company ready for a pandemic?

USAToday has an interesting take on the Pandemic: As if the global economic crisis weren't enough, now an influenza pandemic threatens to disrupt business travel and postpone recovery from the global recession. While the World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other governmental entities grapple with this unfolding crisis and try to keep the public informed without creating a panic, many multinational organizations that depend on business travel may be ill-prepared if the pandemic spreads or becomes more deadly in the coming weeks or months.

More than 40% of 350 multinational organizations do not have a pandemic plan in place, according to a survey conducted by iJET International, Inc., a company that tracks global security and health threats.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) offer pandemic planning services on their websites, but putting together a good pandemic plan involves assessing all issues for your specific organization, according to Marty Pfinsgraff, Chief Operating Officer at iJET. "If you don't have a plan, you probably need some expert advice to work through the issues quickly," says Pfinsgraff.

Although many large organizations lack a pandemic plan, 80% of the iJET survey respondents do have a business continuity plan in place. Business continuity plans look more generally at operation disruptions, such as from hurricanes, power outages, computer system compromises or fires. A business continuity plan deals with the processes in place for bringing operations back to a normal state after a catastrophic event, according to Pfinsgraff.

Pandemics are different because "your facility becomes a place of risk," says Pfinsgraff. "If you have a lot of people sitting side by side in a call center, that becomes a relatively high risk environment when you are seeing human to human transfer of the disease."

How to survive, thrive, and even increase productivity in the face of a pandemic? Web Conferencing solutions like VIA3 connects your world. Presentations, Meetings, and Collaboration can all still be done face to face... but virtually & online. Try the award winning VIA3 for 30 days risk free: www.viack.com

Online Presentations

A majority of Web Conferencing revolves around Online Presentations. This is where you are able to project your PowerPoint slides to any number of participants (1-1000) anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Heck, if you could find a WiFi connection on a beach in bali, you could run a global company meeting with sand in your shorts.

Part of the functionality you would also expect to see is “presenter” and “host” videos, which give you real time views of those who are speaking, or are slated to speak in the online presentation. Ideally you want video quality that allows you to see their mannerisms, expressions, posture, and unspoken communication.

Most people in a large meeting will be in “Audience Mode”, which means they are not projecting their audio or video, but rather watching from the audience. The audience can still communicate with the host and presenter through Group Chat. Group chat is a text-based instant communication that allows anyone in the meeting to input their questions, ideas, thoughts, jokes, comments, etc…

When you need to know everyone’s collective opinion, voting comes into play. The presenter or any one of the hosts can select “New Poll” and present a question to the entire group. For example, a meeting presenter might want to know if everyone has read the material, or whether they agree with what is being proposed. This is a quick and graphical way to immediately understand what the group’s outlook is. Results of the poll can be shown to the group, as well as stored for later consumption and distribution.

Here is a screenshot of VIA3 in presentation mode (Click to enlarge):



As you can see, there are multiple points of interaction that make an online presentation extremely effective. The main presentation is running on the majority of the screen for all to see, view, and follow. Multiple points of presenter and host videos can be seen on the right hand side. At the bottom right, you also see the group chat feature, where everyone is joining into the relevant discussion.

There are an array of tools across the top toolbar for the presenter to utilize if desired. New presentations can be introduced. They can also enact a “LiveView” to show their desktop, a product demonstration (demo), or a relevant application like Microsoft Excel, Access, or any proprietary application needing to be viewed.

There is also the option to open a new “Whiteboard”, where all participants can group think, strategize, plan, and virtually “doodle” with shapes, images, notes, annotations, and marks. These whiteboards can be saved for later use, review, and distribution.

Other miscellaneous controls are available for usage in the above illustration; Controlling attendees and their respective roles, inviting new attendees to join the meeting, recording meeting audio, and more.

This screen shot illustrates the functionality inside of VIA3, which is literally the most affordable, most secure, most feature rich teleworking solution on earth. Company meetings, training, group meetings, departmental meetings, sales demonstrations, marketing demonstrations, and webinars are all just a click away.

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


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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

And yes, VIA3 is that easy to use.


Small Businesses Need Big Security for Documents, IP, Records, and Communication

Full article at http://www.powerhomebiz.com/News/052009/smallbiz-security.htm:

Jason Miller never believed that he would need any additional security for his six sigma corporate consulting business. He had most of his business files stored safely on his laptop, which only he had the password to. He rarely kept documents in hard copy form, and even those were locked away safely in a file cabinet inside of a locked office. When sending files, instant messages, and presentations over the internet, he trusted they would get to their final destination. Why shouldn’t he, considering millions of americans do the same thing every day?His false sense of security was compromised on March 9th, following a visit to a local coffee house. During his visit there, he logged in with their free WiFi service, and conducted his business in true teleworking fashion. He sent several emails, updated his company payroll data, sent several instant messages, and distributed previously prepared reports to three different clients. Little did he know, a prankster had placed a “sniffer” on the WiFi network, and had compromised all of his typed communications for that hour, along with sent files, and email addresses.

By 10:00AM in the next day, his business was in tatters. The prankster had posted all three reports online, and notified the business contacts of that fact. Two of them had cancelled their contract with him citing gross negligence and a breech of confidentiality. The prankster had also sent a copy of his payroll report to the entire company, causing 2 of his consultants to quit over the recently discovered pay descrepancies. Sadly, it could have even been worse, had his financial institution log-ons also been compromised.

Many small businesses are finding out this lesson the hard way, and very few are guarding against it. This is especially critical for companies who deal in personnel records, financial data, health records, technology IP, planning, consulting, and anything else that is sensitive or jeapardizes their companies reputation. Many companies who lose data also find themselves receiving fines so large that it single-handedly forces bankruptcy.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF:

If you never share files over the internet (email, IM attachments, etc..) you have to focus on “hardening” your laptop, with one of the known vendors in the industry. The key, is finding a solution that has 128-bit AES level security built in, so that if your laptop is compromised, all data stored on the harddrive is scrambled and encrypted. At that level of security, there isnt a single document which can be deciphered by a snooping thief. (www.PGP.com, www.guardianedge.com, www.safebit.com, and www.mcafee.com are some of the many vendors who sell this type of product)

If you share some files over the internet but do not send very many communications, you can compliment your disk protection with the use of a VPN solution to “harden” your pipes. Some VPN solutions for small business are (www.smallbusinessvpn.com, www.strongvpn.com, and www.openvpn.com)

If you share files over the internet, and send communications as well, you can use VIA3 from www.viack.com to protect everything you send from point to point. VIA3’s AES level 128 bit security can protect your instant messages, online presentations, online demos, online training, group chat, workspaces for document sharing, and removes the need for a VPN.

WHAT IS AES?

According to the Web Conferencing Council www.webconferencingcouncil.com , Encryption is the process of changing data into a form that can be read only by the intended receiver. To decipher the message, the receiver of the encrypted data must have the proper decryption key (password). AES stands for Advanced Encryption Standard. AES is a symmetric key encryption technique which will replace the commonly used Data Encryption Standard (DES).
It was the result of a worldwide call for submissions of encryption algorithms issued by the US Government’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 1997 and completed in 2000. The winning algorithm, Rijndael, was developed by two Belgian cryptologists, Vincent Rijmen and Joan Daemen. AES provides strong encryption and has been selected by NIST as a Federal Information Processing Standard in November 2001 (FIPS-197), and in June 2003 the U.S. Government (NSA) announced that AES is secure enough to protect classified information up to the TOP SECRET level, which is the highest security level and defined as information which would cause “exceptionally grave damage” to national security if disclosed to the public.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Web Conferencing Keeps Businesses Productive During Swine Flu

While today’s business user has already benefited greatly from web conferencing and the ability to conduct meetings and stay in contact with clients, customers and colleagues without having to leave the office, the advantages of the technology are even more evident when a potential pandemic case of the ‘the H1-N1 virus” or “Swine Flu” arises.

Through the use of audio and video conferencing, users can remain productive and eliminate the risk of coming in contact with any viruses because the need to leave their homes or offices to travel in crowded areas becomes unnecessary.

In fact, in emergency situations or when an outbreak and potential risks from airborne viruses are introduced, it can be difficult for organizations to maintain functionality because employees are hesitant to go to the office or continue on with their communications with others.

Recommendations to avoid crowded places – like an airport, also make the case for conference call solutions even stronger as the technology can allow companies to continue communicating and working via the phone or Internet.

Early announcements about this virus were even conducted by the CDC and others via teleconference and many organizations and other government bodies are also continuing to use teleconferencing as a way to brief the public and communicate on the status of the virus.

With video conferencing services from http://www.viack.com/ (VIA3), companies have an innovative way to get the most of their meetings and ensure their employees remain up to date, even when they can't make it into the office including the ability to participate in important discussions and decisions, while also keeping germs out of the office and maintaining productivity levels.

A study from Frost & Sullivan (News - Alert), World Audio Conferencing Bridge Markets, found that the audio conferencing and bridging market is estimated to reach $200 million in 2014. Also a report from AMI Partners predicts that the audio conferencing market for SMBs will hit $2.6 billion by 2012 and that video conferencing will grow to $164 million by 2012, up from $100 million reported in 2006.

This increased spending in conference call services will ensure that businesses are better prepared to maintain operations regardless of any potential health threats that may arise as well as provide them with an advanced, environmentally friendly, and cost saving way to conduct their meetings, even when no threats are present.

VIA3 from Viack is the most affordable, secure, feature rich web conferencing solution for online presentations, meetings, collaboration, training, desktop sharing, IM, and more. Try the full version FREE for 30 days – no credit card required. Just visit http://www.viack.com/ and sign up!

Teleworking from GovGab (Ginger)

Several years ago my husband and I decided to move from the DC area because we had family obligations in Texas. It was difficult to tell my boss that I was leaving. Thank goodness I brought along a box of tissue because, as expected, he cried a lot at the news. Not really, I just like messing with him. If I mysteriously disappear from the blog next week, you’ll know that he was not amused.


Although the federal government offers its employees many benefits, at the time, telework/telecommuting was relatively new in the government. Telework was not something my office routinely offered, but happily, my management said yes to teleworking for a 3-month trial period. It has worked out so well, that here it is 3+ years later and I am still teleworking. Throughout the government, telework is now becoming more accepted. Many agencies offer teleworking one day a week to employees. My situation is a little different in that I am a full-time teleworker from Texas working out of my home for my DC office, but here are some of my observations about telework:


For it to work well, the teleworking employee has to be independent and self-motivated. A good work ethic in the office can translate into a good work ethic anywhere. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. A person who is continually unreliable in the office will only be more so teleworking. Management has to be firm about allowing only productive and reliable employees to telework. Telework isn’t a right; it should be an earned privilege. If a teleworker’s performance declines, teleworking should be revoked for that person.


Attracting new employees and better employee retention, increased productivity, and creating a federal workforce capable of continuing to work during a crisis from an alternate location are just a few of the benefits to the government.


As someone with health issues, the time I save from not commuting allows me to make healthy meals, get more rest, and make time for exercise. I also save money on gas, lunch, and my clothing budget.


Interested in teleworking? Here are some helpful government teleworking resources:


GSA telework centers
Telework.gov
Status of telework
Success stories
Frequently asked questions about telework


Teleworking has significantly helped my life. I am healthier and less stressed because of it. Please share your teleworking comments and experiences.

To try a teleworking solution free for 30 days, visit www.viack.com to sign up!

Web Conferencing

Web conferencing is used to conduct live meetings or presentations via the Internet. In a web conference, each participant sits at his or her own computer and is connected to other participants via the internet. This can be either a downloaded application on each of the attendees computers or a web-based application where the attendees will simply enter a URL (website address) to enter the conference.

A webinar is a neologism to describe a specific type of web conference. It is typically one-way, from the speaker to the audience with limited audience interaction, such as in a webcast. A webinar can be collaborative and include polling and question & answer sessions to allow full participation between the audience and the presenter. In some cases, the presenter may speak over a standard telephone line, pointing out information being presented on screen and the audience can respond over their own telephones, preferably a speaker phone. There are web conferencing technologies on the market that have incorporated the use of VoIP audio technology, to allow for a truly web-based communication. Webinars may (depending upon the provider) provide hidden or anonymous participant functionality, enabling participants to be unaware of other participants in the same meeting.

In the early years of the Internet, the terms "web conferencing" was often used to describe a group discussion in a message board and therefore not live. The term has evolved to refer specifically to live or "synchronous" meetings.

If you would like to try web conferencing or webinars, first you will need to download the appropriate software. Try VIA3 free for one month from www.via3.com.

Meet The Company That WebEx Hates

http://digg.com/software/Meet_The_Company_That_WebEx_Hates


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."



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Small Business Using Web Conferencing for Effective Corporate Communications

http://www.powerhomebiz.com/News/042009/small-business.htm

In 2005, Russell Carter realized that his small cleaning business had outgrown the shoestring methods of doing corporate communication; phone calls, snail mail, fax, and physical visitations. With recent expansion into three new states, he had to also grow his corporate communications plans as well. After doing some research, he decided to implement web conferencing technology to help productivity, communications, and fiscal responsibility.

There were a number of communication pains that he wanted to solve. First, travel expenses were soaring, with his management staff constantly driving hundreds of miles per week for new business and current customer relations. New business pitches required presentations to effectively seal the deal. Desktop sharing for joint document editing and product demonstrations were only possible with everyone huddled around the same machine. Current customers demanded regular status meetings to discuss operations and finance.

Management meetings were done through a set of conference calls, which gave no face time whatsoever, and made voting and polling almost impossible. Most shared files resided in email, making them impossible for others to discover without asking around. Many of those files were finance or personnel related and required extra security. Long distance bills were piling up, as were conference call fees. Russell prided himself on providing customers with the absolute best quality services at the lowest quality prices, and these inefficiencies were starting to eat into his bottom line badly.

After a week of research, they ended up selecting VIA3 from Viack due to price, and their relative depth of features for the small to medium business. They purchased a few seats for Russell, his operations manager, and his area managers to use. The impact was significant, and immediate, with 95% reductions in travel and telephony costs. There was also a significant improvement in productivity and time savings, allowing everyone to start working normal hours for the first time in two years. The new business pitches were now done with colorful presentations shown over the internet, rather than in-person.

Any new customer with an internet connection could be invited to a meeting or presentation whether they had VIA3 already or not. Anyone’s desktop could now be shown remotely to anyone else for training, editing, and demonstration purposes. Employees could stay in touch with the built-in instant messaging and presence detection. Everyone could share ideas on the common virtual whiteboard. Secure files could now be shared in the document workspaces safely due to the built-in security. Status meetings with customers and employees could now be held on VIA3, with full audio and video conferencing, as well as voting and polling functionality.
Face to face was now a virtual face to face experience. Long distance bills were reduced by 84%, with most employees using the VOIP built-in to meetings to communicate. Snail mail was no longer needed, and faxing was also reduced dramatically.

All of these web conferencing efficiencies and savings meant that Russell could continue offering the best quality service at the best quality price. The difference now was the margins, time and productivity improvements. Russell became a large company in appearance, using corporate communication tools sized for his business.