Letter from Scott Etzler - February 2009
February 26, 2009 @ 07:47 AM | By Scott Etzer

Well folks, we are off and running into 2009! The motto for the new year is usually change and this year is no different. For many companies, last year posed to be somewhat challenging and was full of drastic changes. At InterCall, we make it our business to adapt swiftly and seamlessly to the current trends within the industry in order to help you keep your business moving forward.

In previous years, we created a monthly newsletter which offered different articles that highlighted trends in the conferencing and collaboration industry and new solutions to make you more productive and efficient. In 2009, InterCall has decided to take change one step further. We’re adding a twist to how we communicate all the ‘hot topics’ within the industry to you by incorporating our blog. It’s a central location where you’ll be able to get updated service information, obtain more articles about using conferencing and other tools to improve your meetings and ultimately choose to read the topics that are of interest to YOU. It also gives you an opportunity to comment and give us feedback on what’s hot and what’s not!

So be sure to check out this month’s highlighted blog topics about our simple, yet innovative, new conferencing solution, InterCall Unified Meeting and three part series on how you can use conferencing to be more efficient in 2009. When you go to the blog, make sure to check out the other articles that are posted, too. You’ll definitely find something that will help you have better meetings. Don’t forget to leave a comment—we want to hear from you!

Scott Scott is InterCall's president and has been with the company for 10 years. He is proud of the benefits InterCall’s conferencing services bring to its customers, including operational savings, improved productivity and a better quality of life for their employees.

The Virtual Huddle
February 16, 2009 @ 02:00 PM | By Cambria Vaccaro

Feb-16-Huddle-InterCall-Par According to Wikipedia, a huddle is when a team gathers together, usually in a tight circle, to strategize, motivate or celebrate. In business, we huddle every day. And now, you can huddle virtually. InterCall has joined forces with Huddle.net to deliver the world’s first unified collaboration, communication and social networking platform.

If you’re an InterCall customer you can schedule phone and web meetings in Huddle and share dial-in details, documents and meeting minutes. But that’s not all. Huddle also gives you a wide range of project management and collaboration tools. These include online discussions, whiteboards, task calendars and document version management. You can also create an online profile with picture, contact details and biography to share with your network.

There’s no need for USB keys, CDs or FTP servers; you can store and share all your files online and access them from anywhere. Huddle is great for companies in any market, sector or organization. If you need to work with teams in various offices, manage multiple versions of documents and have discussions about projects, you need Huddle. Here are some ways to use Huddle:

  • Strategize – Marketing and project teams can share information externally with agencies, partners and suppliers or internally with the board.
  • Celebrate – Sales teams increase the speed of contract negotiations with approvals and version controls, making it easier to reach revenue goals.
  • Motivate – Collaborate on school, university or scientific projects across geographical barriers to ensure learning.

InterCall customers can sign up for a free Huddle account here. After your account is set up, you will be able to access Huddle here, as well as via LinkedIn and Facebook.

Cam_blog Cambria Vaccaro is the Senior Director, Marketing Communications and our “Industry News” blogger.  Cambria has been in the conferencing industry for nearly fifteen years, and has seen it evolve from a traditional video bridging service to include cool web features and remote communication services.  She is an avid runner, cook, wife and mother of two gorgeous girls.

Questions that Drive the Learning Process
February 11, 2009 @ 11:00 AM | By Guest Blogger

2009-02-12-Online-Learning On February 18, InterCall will host a webinar with Jeanine O’Neill- Blackwell, co-author of Hold On, You Lost Me! Her book investigates different learning styles and how to improve communication and team building. These are especially important topics as more teaching is brought online and into virtual classrooms.

Please welcome our guest blogger, Jeanine O’Neill-Blackwell.


Learning is the process of asking and answering questions, and there are four key questions that drive that process. The 4MAT model provides a framework for leading the learning process. Whether  learning is happening in a web meeting, one-on-one or in a classroom, you can create an atmosphere that ensures transfer.

When we learn something new, the bulk of the brain activity is happening in the “new learning” area (prefrontal cortex), where we process new things and compare it to what we already know.  Once we figure “it” out and a routine sets in, the brain activity occurs in the “habit” area of the brain (basal ganglia). It requires much less energy to process activity in the “habit” area than it does in the “new learning” area. If you create an opportunity to ask and answer these four questions you encourage the shift from habitual to new thinking.

1. Why?

Why do I need to learn this? Why is this important? Why do I need to change?
Begin by connecting with the learner’s own experiences. Help the learner discover why the content or required behavior change is important. Create a dialogue that elicits experiences and personal sharing that helps the learner understand why the learning is important.

2. What?

What do I need to know? What do the experts have to say about this? What are the key ideas I need to understand?
Avoid “telling” as much as possible. Our brain is flooded with chemicals when we have a personal “aha!” moment. Those chemicals lock in the insight and create permanent change. Create some “aha!” moments in your meetings and training through reflective activities and sharing.

3. How?

How will I use this information? How will this improve my work or personal life?
The very act of focusing our attention on new learning through application locks in the learning. Move the learner into application, before they leave the learning experience. In a meeting, this might mean clear action items are defined. In a classroom situation, this might be a role-play or real-world practice.

4. If?

If I adopt this learning, what will the result be? If I want to apply this, how will I need to adapt it for my work situation?
Give the learner the opportunity to figure out how they can use the information they are learning in their real-world work situation. Allow the learner to do the assessment of how effectively they apply the information.

Keep in mind that changing behavior is stressful. Our brain senses that something is wrong when we shift from processing in the “habit” area to the “new learning” area. Do you recall the first time you drove a car? The first car I learned to drive was a baby blue Toyota Celica with a stick shift. I remember concentrating on every shift, holding my breath every time I pushed down the clutch. I no longer put that kind of focus on driving; in fact, I hardly think about it. Driving has become routine. I can pretty much do it without thinking because now it’s a habit.
 
By focusing on the four key questions above, you will engage each of the 4MAT learning styles. And, more importantly, you will ensure that learning happens. To learn more about 4MAT, visit www.4mat4business.com or register for Jeanine's webinar.

20090218webinarspeaker  Jeanine O’Neill-Blackwell is the President/CEO of 4MAT 4Business, a consulting and training group that provides support in implementing 4MAT, one of the most widely used learning style assessments in the world. She is the co-author of the 2008 Top 10 best-selling training and development books, Hold On, You Lost Me! Use Learning Styles to Create Training that Sticks. She has consulted and trained on leadership development, team building and curriculum design with many learning organizations including Princess Cruises, American Family, Humana, and Cabela’s Sporting Goods.

Video Conferencing Defined, Part 3
February 10, 2009 @ 04:00 AM | By Brian Trampler & Sara O'Rourke


2009-02-10-VideoConferencin The Technical Side of Video Conferencing

Now that you know about the types and features of video conferencing, let’s talk about the technology behind a video conference.

Algorithm
Step-by-step problem-solving procedure. Transmission of compressed video over a communications network requires sophisticated compression algorithms. Some video conferencing systems offer both proprietary and standard compression algorithms.

Aspect ratio
Ratio of a picture’s width to height. In video, this ratio is four units wide by three units high or 4:3.

Analog signals
Audio/video signals currently used in broadcasting where the signal is represented by variable measurable physical quantities (such as voltage). Current TV and radio signals are analog, as are many telephone lines (contrast with digital.)

Bandwidth
In casual use, the amount of information that can be transmitted in an information channel. High bandwidth Internet access means web graphics load quickly in your browser window. High bandwidth video conferencing means that the picture and sound will be clear. In computers, bandwidth refers to the speed at which data can be transmitted on a communications frequency. In telecommunications, the maximum frequency (spectrum) measured in Hertz or cycles per second, between the two limiting frequencies of a channel.

Bit (binary digit)
Smallest unit of information; two possible states. Examples include:
One or zero
Yes or no
On or off

bps
Bits per second (lower case is significant).

Bps or BPS
(8-bit) bytes per second (upper case is significant).

Broadband
High-capacity communications circuit/path. It usually implies a speed greater than 1.544Mbps (in contrast with wideband and narrowband).

BRI (Basic Rate Interface, ISDN)
Three digital signals over a single pair of copper wires: two voice (B) channels and one signal (D) channel (e.g., voice and fax on a single pair of wires).

Compressed video
When the vast amount of information in a normal television transmission is squeezed into a fraction of its former bandwidth by a codec, the resulting compressed video can be transmitted more economically over a smaller carrier. Some information is sacrificed in the process, which may result in diminished picture and sound quality.

Datarate
Measurement for bandwidth in bits per second. In general, the higher the datarate, the higher the quality of video.

Digital signals
Audio/video signals represented by discrete variations (in voltage, frequency, amplitude, location, etc.). A digital clock, for example, displays the time as discrete numeric values rather than angular displacement of analog hands. In general, digital signals can be transmitted faster and more accurately than analog signals. As an example, music from digital compact discs is usually clearer than music from analog records (contrast with analog signals).

FCIF/QCIF
Standards-based formats for communicating between video conferencing systems from different vendors. QCIF is one quarter of the resolution of FCIF.

Frame rate
Frequency in which video frames are displayed on a monitor, typically described in frames-per second (fps). Higher frame rates improve the appearance of video motion. Broadcast TV (full motion video) is 30 frames-per-second.

Full duplex audio
Two-way audio simultaneously transmitted and received without any interference or "clipping." A common feature of room-based video conferencing systems (contrast with half duplex audio). Full motion video is equivalent to broadcast television video with a frame rate of 30 fps. Images are sent in real time and motion is continuous.

Half duplex audio
Two-way audio transmitted and received in turn (rather than simultaneously) so only one site can speak at a time (contrast with full duplex audio).

KBPS (Kilobits per second)
Method of measuring the speed of transmission. The higher the KBPS or speed, the better the quality of the video conference.

Narrowband
Low-capacity communications circuit/path. It usually implies a speed of 56Kbps or less (contrast with wideband and broadband).

NTSC
Standard for scanning television signals. Used in the U.S., Canada and Japan.

PAL
Standard for scanning television signals. Used in most European countries.

Proprietary compression algorithm
Vendor-specific algorithm for compression of a video signal. A video conferencing system using a proprietary algorithm can only communicate with a remote site using the same algorithm. Many vendors also adhere to standard compression algorithms to facilitate communication across platforms.

Protocol
Defines the type of system the client is utilizing, including:
Continuous presence

Speed
Rate (and ultimately the number of lines) a conference uses. The more lines, the higher the speed and better picture quality. Speed runs in increments of 56kbps or 64kbps. Examples include:
112: 2X56kbps
128: 2X64kbps
224: 4X56kbps
256: 4X64kbps
336: 6X56kbps
384: 6X64kbps

Standard compression algorithm
Algorithm convention for compression of a video signal. Adherence to standards allows communication among a wide variety of video conferencing systems, though not with the same clarity as two similar systems using a proprietary algorithm. H.320 is the most widely accepted standard in use today.

Wideband
Medium-capacity communications circuit/path. It usually implies a speed from 64Kbps to 1.544Mbps (contrast with broadband and narrowband).

After this three part series in video conferencing definitions, I hope that you can walk away with some clear knowledge on what it means to have a video conference. Please remember that these are just some of the words you may hear when talking with other people in the industry. To learn more about InterCall’s video conferencing click here.

Brian_2 Brian Trampler is the Sr. Product Manager of Strategic Video Solutions & the "Video Conferencing" blogger. Throughout his 10 years in the conferencing industry, he has successfully launched numerous web, streaming, and video services.  Prior to making the jump to conferencing, Brian was involved in gymnastics both as a competitor and coach.  If you’re lucky, you might also find Brian performing musical theatre throughout the Denver metro area.

Sara_2 Sara O'Rourke is the Associate Product Manager for Strategic Video Solutions and will be a contributor to "Video News". She has been with Intercall for over 4 years and has specialized in the video product for the majority of those years, starting in sales. She is not only an accomplished professional of the video industry, but a fine singer as well.

Video Conferencing Defined, Part 2
February 3, 2009 @ 10:19 AM | By Brian Trampler & Sara O'Rourke

2009-01-22-VideoConferencin Video Conferencing Features

In our last blog we discussed the different types of video conferencing available. This week, we will be talking about the features associated with video that can enhance the effectiveness of your conference.

Audio Add-On
Allows a participant to join a video conference via audio (telephone) only. This can be done through a codec or video bridge.

Bridge or multipoint control unit (MCU)
Piece of equipment that facilitates the communication between three or more sites in a video conference.

Camera presets
Allows pre-defined camera angles to be programmed into a video conferencing system.

Continuous presence
Type of video conference which allows each site to view other sites on a screen. Sites can be viewed in multiple configurations of a split screen. Ideal for when there are more than 5 sites or multiple people at one site. Often referred to as “Brady Bunch style” because of the arrangement of video images on the screen.

Document camera
Specialized camera used for taking pictures of still images (pictures, graphics, text pages) that sent as part of a video conference.

Document sharing
Feature supported by many desktop video conferencing systems that allows participants at both ends of a video conference to view and edit the same computer document.

Echo-cancellation
Process of eliminating acoustic echo in a video conferencing room.

Public room
Renting a video conferencing equipped room for those who need to participate in a video conference but don’t have access to a system. Video conferencing room rentals is a service offered to the InterCall customer base.

Speed matching
Upgrades the speed of a lower channel codec to a higher channel conference. This allows for the best possible transmission and video viewing.

Video streaming
Server/client technology that allows live or pre-recorded data to be broadcast in real time, opening up the network for traditional multimedia applications such as news, training, entertainment, advertising and a host of other uses. Streaming enables the Internet or company intranet to act as a broadcast medium for audio and video.

Voice-activated video conference
Type of video conference in which the cameras are (1) activated by sound, (2) switch to the site where the sound is originating and (3) display that site on participant monitors.

Next week we will look at the technology terms associated with video conferencing. So please, keep the questions and comments coming in!

Brian_2 Brian Trampler is the Sr. Product Manager of Strategic Video Solutions & the "Video Conferencing" blogger. Throughout his 10 years in the conferencing industry, he has successfully launched numerous web, streaming, and video services.  Prior to making the jump to conferencing, Brian was involved in gymnastics both as a competitor and coach.  If you’re lucky, you might also find Brian performing musical theatre throughout the Denver metro area.

Sara_2 Sara O'Rourke is the Associate Product Manager for Strategic Video Solutions and will be a contributor to "Video News". She has been with Intercall for over 4 years and has specialized in the video product for the majority of those years, starting in sales. She is not only an accomplished professional of the video industry, but a fine singer as well.

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