Tablets and Television

The way we watch television is on the cusp of evolving as the tablet computer is converging with subscription television to provide users with more TV and movies on the go.

According to the Wallstreet Journal, at least seven of the ten largest subscription-TV providers in the U.S. are building applications for tablet computers that will offer TV shows and movies to people who are subscribed.

What’s that mean? Subscribers to cable providers like Comcast and AT&T will soon be able to get an iPad app allowing them to watch shows like NCIS or Grey’s Anatomy as they are aired.

The forebears of this convergence are Netflix and Hulu, the latter having just released Hulu Plus, which allows subscribers to stream movies over the Internet onto their iDevices or Android phones.

However, there is a difference between the forbears and the current move made by cable providers. Netflix and Hulu only show cached programs; shows and movies that have already been released. The new shift with cable providers will allow—in some cases and with certain shows—real -time streaming that’s simultaneous to the airing of the program. In most instances, however, the providers will work like Netflix, permitting subscribers to search for and watch certain TV shows on the go.

For example, Comcast is developing an app that would allow existing subscribers to search and view certain TV shows that had already been aired, almost like an on-demand feature. 

Also, Time Warner Cable Inc. is developing an app that would allow subscribers to watch TV shows over Wi-Fi.

According to the Wallstreet Journal, the providers are releasing the new apps to make their subscription-based television more competitive with the burgeoning shift to TV over the Internet, which in many cases is free or inexpensive.

Netflix and Hulu are merging the media from the other end—syncing their products with televisions—in an effort to bite back. For example, Hulu Plus is available on Samsung televisions.

And, of course, Google is stepping into the fray, allowing people to rent movies from the search-engine site. At first, the renting feature will be provided only for the 3.2 million Fios TV subscribers, but it would soon be provided for nonsubscribers too.

Where Does Communication Go Bad?

Communication is tricky. Having developed a friendship with someone over the internet, I learned over time that I would have to ask if there was a hidden meaning to the word because I can’t hear her say them, so I’m not sure what she meant. We do a lot with our tone of voice when communicating with others so taking that out of things, it can cause confusion.

Tone isn’t the only place that communication can go wrong. Communication is such a broad term that, to put it bluntly, there are a million different ways to mess it up. Here are some of the biggest offenders that can cause communication to fail – at least as far as I’m concerned.

Email / IM / Chat / Etc. -- They are, in my humble opinion, part of business. In this day and age, if you are not working with these kinds of services, then you’re falling behind. The problem is that when communicating through these forums, you lose all of your tone – and tone is so incredibly important. A good rule of thumb is the first time you have to ask yourself “I wonder what he/she means by that” during an email or chat conversation, it’s probably time to pick up the phone to finish the conversation.

Distractions – Things like the TV, your cell, or computer. At my house, I always forget that my hubby can look at the TV and listen, just like I can text and listen at the same time. It leads to a lot of those “You’re not even listening to me, are you?” moments. This is easily overcome by turning off whatever it is that is distraction.

Spelling / Grammar – Cruise on over to FailBlog and check out how quickly a spelling error or using the wrong context of a word can send a message spiraling out of control. Use your spell check or get someone to read over emails or newsletters before you send them out. Abbreviations – Once, a long time ago, I asked my boss a question in IM and his response was “Y”. I didn’t know if he meant yes or why, and it required me to get up to clarify, adding an extra step in our communication process. It’s best to just spell words out in their completion to avoid any kind of confusion.

Implied Meanings – Making someone guess what you mean is no fun when you’re on the other side of it. If you mean something, come right out and say it – don’t make people guess.

Those are just a few of the things that can make communication go wrong and how you can get around them. What kind of things have you experienced that has made communication go wrong and how do you fix them?


Report Shows Lackluster Business Travel Spending

A report by the National Business Travel Association (NBTA) shows that spending on global business travel fell 8.8 percent in 2009, the greatest decline since 9/11.

Though the past has shown a drop off, the forecast bears for brighter days as the global economy revamps. The same report projected global business travel spending to reach $896 billion dollars this year and to grow to $1.2 trillion by 2014.

Air travel this summer has already been on the rise, which bodes for fares to rise proportionally.

The revitalization, according to the report, will be a bumpy one and analysts from the report say travel managers and suppliers will be kept on their toes.

One of the main reasons for the unsteady rise is that the recovery is not projected to be uniform across the globe. Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East are expected to grow more rapidly than North America and Europe. For example, growth for the United States between now and 2014 is projected at 2.4 percent. In the same timeframe, growth for China is predicted at 12.3 percent.

Another cause for the turbulent travel forecast is the restructuring of the main business travel sectors, which is in order because different industries have been affected by the Great Recession in different ways. For example, traveling for the utilities sector, which is one of the largest business travel contributors, fell by 14 percent last year. However, it is slated for a quick rebound in 2010.

By contrast, real estate, one of the main contributors to the global recession, will continue to drag and continue to put a strain on the business-travel recovery.

The nature in which revenues are being generated is changing as well. The traditional means of revenue generation—airfare—is supplemented by a cavalcade of alternative streams, as airlines now charge for everything from checked baggage to exit seats.

5 Ways to Avoid the Huh

One of the first experiences I had after moving to Arkansas from South Carolina was a total mis-communication. I was sitting at the lunch table with some good ole Southern boys who would end up becoming some of the most important people in my life, when one of them asked me a question. It was a very general question like, “So you’re from the city?” It was like someone punched him in the back of the throat and made him spit out all of those words in one breath, thus ruining a potential conversation.

I just stared at him until I admitted, “I have no idea what you just said. Can you slow it down for me?”

“So… You...Are…From…The…City?”

In South Carolina, we like to drag out our conversations, thick and slow, like hot air or molasses. In Arkansas, it was the complete opposite, and I had to keep up or I was going to be left behind. When opening up and speaking to people (especially when you’re the new girl) here are five things to keep in mind to keep yourself from talking at the speed of sound and causing those “huh” moments.

  1. Think about what you’re going to say it before you let it fall out.
  2. Rehearse when you can and when it’s appropriate.
  3. Don’t be nervous! Or… well, try not to be. At a networking event, everyone is there to meet people, try to keep that in mind.
  4. Skip the caffeine boost. Don’t drink anything that might send you into fast forward mode.
  5. Get someone you trust to help. When presenting in front of a group it can be really helpful to get a friend who will stand in the back and hold up their hands when you’re starting to babble or speak too fast.

When was the last time you got or gave a “huh” look after speaking to someone or a group? Have you been able to identify when you’re speaking too fast and what you can do in the future to keep it from happening too much?

Smartphones Sync Social Biking System

Citizens of New York will have a new mode of transportation this fall that combines commuting, smartphones, social media and—you’ll never guess—bicycling.

The Social Bicycle System, or SoBi, allows users to pinpoint individual bicycles, which will be distributed throughout the city, using the GPS on their Androids or Iphones; then, they can use their member pin, which is assigned after they sign up and pay a membership fee, to unlock the bicycles.

SoBi is the first communal bike system that is tracked, located and unlocked using wireless service, and the creators, amazingly, said they did if for less than half the costs of similar communal bike programs.

The model is based on three parts: the social cyclist, who creates an account; a central server, that stores all bicycler information and tracks all bicycles; and a social bicycle, which is unlocked and used for—well, transportation.

Once a social cycler has created an account they can immediately begin searching for bicycles on their GPS and unlocking bicycles using their codes.

The on-bike keypad even has a hold function that will lock the bike for ten minutes to keep other social bikers from swiping your bike, though it only lasts for 10 minutes. However, social bikers can text SoBi staffers to have them deliver bikes when needed.

Using their SoBi profiles, riders can track their rides, how many calories they have burned, and even view maps of their travel habits, showing which routes they take most frequently.

And, for the SoBi staffers, the central server keeps all inventory stats, status alerts and bike density data, which allows them to see which areas need the most bicycles for relocation.

The SoBi team is using the fall release in New York to test the prototype, but eventually hopes to expand to other cities, college campuses, and even corporate campuses worldwide.

Here’s the confusing part: each SoBi has to be returned to a docking port called a hub by 9 PM every night. After 9 PM the user who last accessed an out-of-hub bicycle will be charged $2. So, if Johnny Biker uses a Bike at 2 in the afternoon and doesn’t return it to port, and it doesn’t get returned by another social biker, then Johnny Biker is charged $2.

Now that bike is shown as delinquent on the map of available bicycles, and it will be marked by a $2 bounty. If another user finds the delinquent bike and returns it, $2 will be credited to their account. A pretty neat addition if you think about it, because, if Johnny Biker finds a delinquent bike and turns it in sometime later, he gets the credit back.

Also, bikers who want get credit toward their membership fees can go around collecting stray SoBis to build it up, possibly even getting gift certificates from program sponsors.

To view the SoBi website click here.


Murdoch and Skype Vie for “Sky”

Rupert Murdoch’s British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) is in the midst of a legal battle with Skype over ownership of the “Sky” portion that both companies share in their names.

Skype filed for an Initial Public Offering earlier this week, and the legal challenge from BSkyB was discussed in the filing.

BSkyB is disputing Skype’s application for trademark of the brand and bubble logo in the European Union and several other countries including India, Norway and Brazil.

BSkyB is a satellite broadcaster, Internet service and telephony service provider, which means the two companies operate within the same field and could, thus, be seen as competitors with similar names. BSkyB is vying for the trademark with the assertion that the likeness in names could confuse consumers.

Though Skype has contested the challenge successfully in Brazil and Turkey, permission to use the name was denied by the EU trademark registry (OHIM).

Skype said in the filing that they intend to appeal the decision, first, in the OHIM Board of Appeal, and, second, if necessary, to the Court of Justice of the European Community.

If BSkyB’s challenge proves to be successful Skype could be barred from trading in its own name within the EU.

The Skype filing also mentioned, “If these oppositions to our application for trademark registration are ultimately successful, it will be more difficult for us to prevent third parties from using the Skype brand without our permission, which may have a material adverse effect on our business.”

Additionally, a successful challenge in the EU could be a harbinger for more trademark infringement suits in other countries and regions, both from BSkyB and other similarly-named parties.

Ten Tips for Turning Off Your Accent

I had an advantage when it came to me learning English and speaking – I learned how to speak in a foreign country, so my basis for language did not have the blanket of an accent. When I was f ive, I moved back to the states and to South Carolina, where my mother often reminds me of how she caught me trying to teach myself how to speak like my family did. The longer I have spent in the south, the more of an accent I have developed, but I feel like I speak eloquently.

With that being said, it is sometimes brought to my attention when I’m nervous, angry, or around friends and family that I do indeed have a bit of a southern twang. My biggest offender is the word “orange”, which I am constantly, reminded that I pronounce “are-gne.” I’m self-conscious of my accent, since nerves bring it out and social settings for me bring out nervousness, I feel like it’s prevented me from really being able to go to events and let myself shine. I’ve been working on my accent and how to reduce what I like to call Southern-Girl-itis.

Here are ten tips to toning down your accent – or getting rid of it completely.

  1. Remember that it won’t be easy; you’re basically teaching yourself how to speak again.
  2. Find words that give you a hard time and practice them in a mirror.
  3. Record yourself speaking to another person or read a passage from a book. Play it back so you can identify letter combinations that might be giving you trouble.
  4. Speak clearly by remembering to open your mouth.
  5. Say the word in your head before you say it out loud.
  6. Hold your fingers at the side of your throat when you speak to help “feel” what shapes you’re making when you say the words.
  7. Immerse yourself into speech that doesn’t showcase a regional accent.
  8. Speak to someone with a different dialect (like someone from above the Mason Dixon like if you’re combating a twang) and let them tell you what words sounded different.
  9. Learn new words and expand your vocabulary to introduce your brain to words without and accent.
  10. Remove colloquial phrases like “ya’ll” from your daily use.

What’s your accent? Are you like me with a country girl twang or do you have something like Boston or Minnesota seeping the edges of your tone? What have you done that’s worked to combat your accent?

RIM Negotiations Reflect Global Privacy Concerns

Saudi Arabia permitted BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion Ltd. to continue its messaging service, which was due to be shut off Monday at midnight.

This is the second deadline that BlackBerry has wriggled by, but analysts say the negotiations are likely drawing to a close as there is no new deadline set.

The talks between the two have momentarily taken the spotlight of an ongoing dispute between governments and cell phone providers—a dispute that transcends several telecom technologies and the countries quickly adapting them.

For example, the Indian Government, who still feel the reverberations of the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, have recently threatened to shut off BlackBerry service too, saying that RIM’s sophisticated encryption makes it too difficult to breach terrorist networks operating via mobile phone. The Mumbai attacks were coordinated almost entirely by cell phone and e-mail.

Similar concerns have been voiced in Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates; especially because BlackBerry servers are located in Canada, which leaves them out of the jurisdiction of the countries’ laws.

The tug, essentially, is one between privacy and security, where governments and law enforcement say that access to sensitive data like messaging, call logs and even GPS location is necessary for the adequate protection of their citizens.

And it’s not only felt in the East either.

In late June 2010 the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony about advanced cell phone tracking systems, information gathering techniques used by law enforcement, and an outdated law that has permitted, in several occasions, abuse of the system.

The Electronic Communications Act of 1986 determines the law in matters of cell phone and law enforcement in the U.S., however, it hasn’t been updated since its inception, meaning that the government is relying on precedent that was set when cell phones were the size of a strong man’s bicep.

In the digital world of today, cell phones transmit users’ locations roughly every seven seconds, several companies provide services for cell-phone owners to track their spouses, and billions of pieces of data rocket across networks, become harbored in cloud services or databases and are ready to be snatched by law enforcement at any moment and with little legislative regulation.

One of the main pieces of discussion in the hearings was the disconnect between the EPCA and the Communications Assistance For Law Enforcement Act. Through loop holes in these Acts, law enforcement officers have been able to monitor the cell phones of people whom they suspect of crimes without obtaining a warrant.

Privacy advocacy groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, say the ease with which law enforcement circumvent these warrants is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

“Our failure to bring privacy law into the 21st century opens the door for a whole new realm of abuse, and long experience suggests that governments including our own are seldom able to resist making use of power,” writes Catherine Crump, a staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project.

Congress is yet to pass ruling concerning cell-phone tracking.

For Canadian-based RIM, the negotiations with Saudi Arabia could yield any number of results.

Details are still hidden because RIM officials have been unwilling to comment in the media.

The governments of the Eastern countries, who are battling domestic terrorism, maintain that access to the encrypted messages is vital and also accuse RIM of a double standard, saying the company allows developed democracies access to the same information to which they, themselves, are denied.

It’s somewhat murky just what information BlackBerry does provide governments when asked, but “legal intercepts” are typically permitted and there are doubts that BlackBerry decrypts confidential information.

What is certain is that the world—Eastern and Western countries alike—will be watching the outcome in Saudi Arabia.

Flash for the iPhone, Finally

Here’s a news Flash for you: for those who’ve always wanted to run Adobe Flash on their iPhones, a new program, called Frash, that works on jailbroken phones will do it for you, though maybe not as quickly as you’d like.

Jailbreakme developer, Comex, the same dev who unveiled a jailbreaking app last week, came up with the hack, which finally defies Apple’s long standing aversion to the product.

Users with jailbroken phones can employ Comex’s tools to install the Frash software, which is a port of the Flash runtime environment for Google Android.

Of course, we gave it a shot as soon as we heard. We found the hack successful, but it took a while to load up the Flash content. What’s more is the page got pretty sluggish. It may be wise to wait a little while for the next, updated version to come out from Comex. We’ll just have to see.

Hulu Plus Subscribers Receive Invites Today

Hulu Plus invitations hit the inboxes of those who requested them today, allowing subscribers to watch a wider variety of shows on their iPhones, iPads, TVs and more. And, it’s in HD.

The entirely new feature offers Hulu’s cloud service and is described by the official Hulu blog, as “a treasure chest in the cloud for TV lovers.”

Users who got the invites will be able to use the code to sign up for Hulu Plus, which is the new, ad-supported subscription product that is an addition to the service.

Now, television shows can be watched on iPads, iPhones 4, IPhone 3GS, or third-generation iPod touch via Wi-Fi or 3G with the Hulu Plus app.

It can also be viewed on select Samsung-Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players through a downloadable application, which is found in the Samsung app store.

Hulu plus subscribers pay $9.99 to have access to full seasons and entire archives of popular television shows, which gives more access that had previously offered.

Take this snippet from the official Hulu blog as an example of what it offers:

 “As a Hulu Plus subscriber, you’ll now also have access to back seasons or full runs of some of TV’s greatest shows. All nine seasons of The X-Files. All three seasons of Arrested Development. Ten seasons of Law and Order: SVU. All five seasons of Ally McBeal. Seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and three seasons ofRoswell. Every episode ever of Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives. Classic skits from the first five and most recent five seasons of Saturday Night Live. The list goes on.”

Soon Hulu Plus is supposed to be available for other devices and platforms such as the PlayStation 3, according to the blog.



AccuConference | Conference Call Information in CSV Files

Conference Call Information in CSV Files

We strongly advocate the idea of recording your conference calls, even if you don't think you'll need to listen to it ever again. The same goes for tracking and knowing exactly who joined conference calls. The way we provide this kind of information is by giving our customers access to downloading CSV files that store information based on the kind of conference call you host. Lately, we've had some customers asking us about how to get their hands on this information and how they can get the most out of this kind of attendance tracking.

General Conference Information

When you host your standard conference call you still get data on who joined the conference. It's very basic information like what conference code was used and the caller ID for those that joined the call. The data is saved in a CSV file that you can download directly from your customer site and is a good tool to use when you need just a basic headcount on attendance for your conferences.

Chat Transcription

Anytime you host a web conference with us and turn on the chat feature, we log that chat session and store it on the customer site. The ability to download the files directly wasn't always an option, but since our customers liked this feature so much we decided to make it more accessible. A lot of our customers use the web conferencing chat sessions for Q&A so that if they missed any questions, they have record of them and go back to answer them even after the call is over.

Registration Data

When you use our registration page, you get the information saved in a CSV file. With the registration page, you can edit what information you want collected (we automatically grab name and email address) and all of this will be recorded on the spreadsheet. It even breaks down your conference call to show who attended and who didn't. It's a great sales tool to see who might have registered for your conference call and didn't get to attend. You have the information that you need to contact them and find out more information.

Operator Answered Information

If you want to stand out go for the operator answered conference call. We'll take down the participants name and one other piece of information. After the call, that information is included on the Call Detail CSV file that can be downloaded directly from your account. Operator answered conferences are great for media conferences, special guest speakers, or shareholder meetings.

How to Download Call & Chat Logs

  • Login to your Customer Account
  • Click Conference Manager
  • Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the blue "view" link beside the call you're looking for.
  • On the next page, you'll find the reports listed at the top beside "Downloads". Click on the CSV file you want to download.

Got any questions? No problem - feel free to put them in the comments or give us a call and we can answer anything you want to know about these different files. Is there anything you're doing with these files that could make attendance tracking on your next conference call or web conference easier?

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