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(NPR)   Has the end come for the conference call?   (npr.org) divider line 125
    More: Scary  
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11992 clicks; posted to Main » on 04 Jun 2014 at 1:52 AM (29 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-06-03 11:49:27 PM  
Every day, at 6:30 a.m., I join a conference call with colleagues on the East Coast. I call an 800 number, then enter a six-digit conference room number, then a PIN. And despite the group remaining largely unchanged, once a week, something goes wrong. When I conference with outsiders, there's a problem every other call. There's the "oops I got the wrong dial-in" problem. There's the "PIN is too long to remember" problem. There's the "is so-and-so on the line?" problem. And the "someone hasn't muted the line and is a mouth breather" problem.

It's possible that you and the people you work with are halfwits.
 
2014-06-04 12:00:50 AM  

Pocket Ninja: It's possible that you and the people you work with are halfwits.


I think this is very likely.  I used to have to dial into a team lead meeting every week from home (because they always seemed to happen on my days off) and I would sit there with the phone muted playing video games through it.

No one ever had those problems listed.
 
2014-06-04 12:03:14 AM  
Oh, man, I hope so. I HATE conference calls!
 
2014-06-04 12:04:57 AM  
I learned just today that a conference call between two techs and a customer who doesn't speak English results in two techs repeating "Could you please repeat that?" over and over again

/I was following orders
//I hate my job
 
2014-06-04 12:09:24 AM  
No, shut up idiot. Conference calls are easy - it sounds like you and your colleagues are just dumb.
 
2014-06-04 12:26:16 AM  
*checks Outlook calendar*

Nope.  It's not the end of the conference call anytime soon.
 
2014-06-04 01:56:01 AM  
Gawd, I hope so.  Every week, I have a "team meeting" confrence call with everybody who works for the same boss - in over half a dozen states.  And most of the participants are old men in their 60s and 70s.  With all the rambling that implies.  We're all computer field engineers, and I'm surprised that some of these guys can even correctly identify their car keys, much less understand how to use them ;)
 
2014-06-04 01:57:13 AM  
I used to work for a Japanese company. Conference calls with headquarters often consisted of 6 Americans sitting around answering emails while the speakerphone spewed out thousands of words per minute of Japanese.

It always felt like I had tuned in the wrong channel on cable TV.
 
2014-06-04 01:59:17 AM  
We use Microsoft Lync. Works great. I talk to people all over the world with clarity of talking to someone next door. Everyone has a USB headset. We can talk 1:1 or conference calls, share chat session, screens, and documents. It works nearly flawless.
 
2014-06-04 02:00:44 AM  
Oh for crissakes. I have recently submitted a cornucopia of brilliance and this is the drivel that gets greenlit?
What gives mods?
Did I sit on your stool at Happy Hour?
 
2014-06-04 02:06:57 AM  
This article was written by the pointy-haired boss in Dilbert.

/can't figure out Skype either
 
2014-06-04 02:07:24 AM  
If the headline has a question mark in it, the answer is probably NO.
 
2014-06-04 02:11:04 AM  
Nope -- once a month I sit there on the phone marvelling at how more than half of my co-workers managed to dress and feed themselves up to this point.

\We should post the numbers and times for our calls and just crash them all for each other...
 
2014-06-04 02:14:08 AM  
dilbert.com
 
2014-06-04 02:22:48 AM  
I hope not.  I've tried tons of alternatives.  Butcher, Orphan Maker, Flakker.  None of them come close to Conference Call's performance.  The Swordsplosion's nice, but for direct, rapid fire?  CC all the way.
 
2014-06-04 02:25:29 AM  
My company is considering using Google hangouts for our conference call needs.

But the bosses are against it.

They've seen the TV commercials and they think having to invite the Muppets will reduce productivity.
 
2014-06-04 02:34:24 AM  
Like email, conference calls are not going away anytime soon. Stop asking.
 
2014-06-04 02:35:32 AM  

Harry_Seldon: Everyone has a USB headset.


Headsets would help a lot even on traditional calls. Even dedicated speaker phones are pretty bad in terms of audio quality and generally speaking cell phone/desk phone speakerphones are downright terrible. A $15 headset for all participants would solve those problems, but for some reason it's only available to people using their computer as a phone.

/ Not that using a computer as a phone is a bad idea
 
2014-06-04 02:40:06 AM  

mikefinch: Nope -- once a month I sit there on the phone marvelling at how more than half of my co-workers managed to dress and feed themselves up to this point.

\We should post the numbers and times for our calls and just crash them all for each other...


I have to do roughly 5 calls a DAY like this (minimum). I was hoping TFA would give me a sign that the end is nigh but no, only the sweet release of death will free me from this hell. The stories, though...oh man, I've heard it all.

I may steal that idea for a call or two on 4/1/15. Could I press on a few dozen Farkers to perhaps bomb a call? Might be worth a beer at a San Diego County Fark party. And a recording. Gotta have the recording.

The lulz. Do it for them.

/PM me if interested
 
2014-06-04 02:41:30 AM  
So, why hasn't some tech startup fixed this?

We have. Multiple times. In a myriad of different ways. With all kinds of exciting new technologies. Plain text communications that can reach multiple destinations. Rich text! Moving pictures with audio. Real time text based chats. Interactive forums. And on. And on.

Yet the fax machine still survives to this day. And the conference call. And Windows XP. Because your buttfarking company decided that it would cost too much time/effort/resources/thought to get with the cock sucking times. Then they'd have to hire someone to tell them what to do. Then they'd have to actually listen and do it. And you know, work is like, hard and stuff.
 
2014-06-04 02:44:28 AM  
The bigger the company, the more flaccid the grasp on new technology.

We have had teleconferencing, Lync, IM, Skype, GoToMeeting, etc., etc. for years.
Our company has invested in the latest tech services to have one-touch teleconferencing and point-to-point video meeting tech going on at least 5 years now.
We have several VERY nice conference rooms outfitted with 60"+ HDTVs for such meetings.
We have cameras that track motion for multiple speakers in teleconferencing calls
We have killer speakers in the ceiling and the industry's best polycoms for crystal-clear meetings across 4 states, 2 countries.

yet 99% of our meetings are conducted via people using their own cell phones or cubicle's phones and they never enable their cameras.

It is not because the tech is not available or even promoted...it is because the employees don't want to embrace new technology.
...actually, let me correct that:  it is because ALL the employees don't want to embrace the new tech simultaneously.

There could be IT driving innovation; yet because it would take an extra 5 minutes to learn the new technology, people from marketing or finance will say "let's just setup a conference call" OR "let's just get together in a room".

The IT people and the Marketing people may say "lets setup a teleconference"...but the technological lowest common denominator will ALWAYS win because they will eat up half the meeting complaining they can't get on.

I could easily telecommute to work...yet I drive my ass in EVERY DAY because of antiquated notions of "We have always done it this way, so we will keep on doing it this way."

It is friggin aggravating.  But at the end of the day, it is one of the lower-ranking items on the list of annoyances related to co-workers resorting to the "That's just how we do it."

You wanna see really annoying?  Watch a great company invest heavily in cutting edge BI technology just to watch them copy and paste from Access databases into 1000 excel files to do their reporting.
 
2014-06-04 02:45:57 AM  
static.parade.condenast.com

"That's you isn't it, Miriam..."
 
2014-06-04 02:50:15 AM  

Pocket Ninja: Every day, at 6:30 a.m., I join a conference call with colleagues on the East Coast. I call an 800 number, then enter a six-digit conference room number, then a PIN. And despite the group remaining largely unchanged, once a week, something goes wrong. When I conference with outsiders, there's a problem every other call. There's the "oops I got the wrong dial-in" problem. There's the "PIN is too long to remember" problem. There's the "is so-and-so on the line?" problem. And the "someone hasn't muted the line and is a mouth breather" problem.

It's possible that you and the people you work with are halfwits.


It's been my experience that there's always a couple of guys in every company that have a problem connecting their conference call, or have a problem with their email, or their lap-top gets fried, or whatever.  I don't know if they think that these problems are common to everyone...or if they ever consider are aware that it is they who are the common denominator.
 
2014-06-04 02:52:24 AM  
Of course the conference call is dead. 
They've been called 'Bridge Calls' for years and for no apparent reason. 

Please explain why we need 10-digit PINs for every damn call?

So glad I quit. 
3 weeks of unemployed bliss.
 
2014-06-04 02:59:11 AM  

profplump: Harry_Seldon: Everyone has a USB headset.

Headsets would help a lot even on traditional calls. Even dedicated speaker phones are pretty bad in terms of audio quality and generally speaking cell phone/desk phone speakerphones are downright terrible. A $15 headset for all participants would solve those problems, but for some reason it's only available to people using their computer as a phone.

/ Not that using a computer as a phone is a bad idea


We use these Jabra Biz 2400 Duo. They are fantastic.
 
2014-06-04 03:06:09 AM  

Harry_Seldon: Not that using a computer as a phone is a bad idea


it is my only phone now.
Sooooo happy to get rid of the cell phone.
leave a message and i'll get back to you....maybe.

My headphone...let me show it to you
 
2014-06-04 03:06:13 AM  
It's that or start flying back to New York once a week for those meetings the head office think you just HAVE to have...
 
2014-06-04 03:09:17 AM  
I run a tiny business - it's a band. We do everything over email or when we meet in person. We haven't made a profit in 2 years but neither have a lot of the Fortune companies. The thing to do, I've learned, is fire morons. You don't have to be a genius, just show up on time, don't be a dick and do the shiat you're good at.
 
2014-06-04 03:16:05 AM  
And the "someone hasn't muted the line and is a mouth breather" problem.


I'm this guy... on purpose. It's hilarious!
 
2014-06-04 03:22:30 AM  
The biggest problem with conference calls?

media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com
 
2014-06-04 03:35:00 AM  
We use Jabber (Cisco) -- it's fine, I think the secret isn't the tech so much as  A) decent , scratch that, high-quality omni-directional microphones* (the kind found on teleconferencing speakerphones) and B) People who mute their mics when not contributing. Also an honorary mention if your meeting room has those foam sound baffle-thingys in a few places on the walls. Echos are the DEBBIL. No, seriously. Hang tapestries or something soft. A room with painted walls or whiteboards is the worst place to understand conversations. Yet all meeting rooms are like that.

*Occasionally I "virtually" meet the same people with FaceTime and BOY HOWDY do iPhone microphones suck at being omni-directional microphones. They work for personal phonecalls only.
 
2014-06-04 03:36:33 AM  
Webex Enterprise works great and does not require a call-in PIN - you click the meeting link and the system calls you instead, or you can use your computer for audio. We use it to record screen sharing meetings as well. It even puts a little widget on your screen that says "so and so is talking" so you can easily find out who forgot to put the phone on mute before they went to the restroom. Fun stuff.
 
2014-06-04 03:51:37 AM  
Why is that "scary"?
 
2014-06-04 03:57:52 AM  

mr lawson: My headphone...let me show it to you


Personally I use one of these:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002LARY0Q/

Which I like because it's simultaneously connected via analog wires to my desk phone, USB to my computer, and Bluetooth to my cell, so I can use it for everything and never muck with the settings. If it weren't priced like office equipment I'd have one everywhere I used the phone.
 
2014-06-04 04:21:19 AM  

Pocket Ninja: It's possible that you and the people you work with are halfwits.


And the rest of manage several conference calls every day without any drama involved.

/if you can't manage a conference call you are an idiot
 
2014-06-04 04:24:12 AM  

Danger Avoid Death: The biggest problem with playing TitanFall on XBoxOne conference calls?

[media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com image 500x426]


/fortunately they now allow you to mute the idiots
//for conference calls you publicly call out the idiot and then drop him from the call
 
2014-06-04 04:27:42 AM  
Newsflash: NPR writers work with people that can't be counted on to not fail dialing into a conference call.

/does conference calls all the time, no problems except for the mute thing
 
2014-06-04 04:38:18 AM  
My last ten or so job interviews were all held by conference call, with the usual attendant awkward pauses, bizarre inability to communicate, etc. These were all at universities and colleges with up-to-date IT departments, AV specialists, etc., but still they chose to half-gather in a windowless office and yell at a table mic to determine who to hire.
 
2014-06-04 04:53:55 AM  
Socially meeting on TeamSpeak/Ventrillo/Mumble/Whatever is miles more convenient than this pager-era business tech. The amount of stuff 2-20 people can get done on basic social software with push to talk and a good headset is amazing.
 
2014-06-04 05:12:38 AM  
We use ghetto-assed at&t teleconferencing/Web meetings. It has all the features the whizzy startups in TFA do. The ONLY time I've encountered the problems mentioned are 'all hands' type presentations, and that's because the presenter is too important to read the manual and discover the keys to push to mute everyone, and yet insists on setting up the meeting themselves instead of letting the concierge do it (despite the fact that you need the concierge if the meeting will be bigger than 20 participants anyway).
 
2014-06-04 05:13:57 AM  
TFA reads like a half dozen press releases copy and pasted together.
 
2014-06-04 05:40:40 AM  
I see NPR is approaching CNN levels of "journalism"
 
2014-06-04 05:53:32 AM  

AngryDragon: I see NPR is approaching CNN levels of "journalism"


NPR only mentions tweets. CNN would have based their whole story on tweets. They would have set up a conference tweet with a bevy of celebritards all twittering and tweeting away in the twitterverse while the CNN "news" staff all circle-jerked their way to a tweeterful twittergasm.
 
2014-06-04 06:02:01 AM  
The technology really hasn't been a problem for a very long time. I've worked at companies where we used MSN to do it and it worked just fine. You can do it with Skype too.

The real problem is that conference calls are pointless for nearly all participants. I used to sit in a daily meeting of a retail company and almost every day, I would deliver current stats on Intranet performance, say it was all working fine etc. One day I said to the boss "how about I email you with the stats unless there's a problem". "No, you have to be there". Then I'd sit listening to a load of stuff that I had nothing to do with like the branch network outages and discussions between the retail software and hardware guys.

I want as few people as possible in my meetings/calls. If I think I might need a developer, I'll tell him to work, but I'll patch him in if we need him for something. Even then, I try to get the information about his stuff that I think I might need for the call so I don't have to.
 
2014-06-04 06:02:03 AM  
In the future, the telescreens will be smaller.
www.ditl.org
 
2014-06-04 06:04:51 AM  

Danger Avoid Death: AngryDragon: I see NPR is approaching CNN levels of "journalism"

NPR only mentions tweets. CNN would have based their whole story on tweets. They would have set up a conference tweet with a bevy of celebritards all twittering and tweeting away in the twitterverse while the CNN "news" staff all circle-jerked their way to a tweeterful twittergasm.


Although true, I hope you felt dirty after typing that.
 
2014-06-04 06:06:24 AM  

AngryDragon: Danger Avoid Death: AngryDragon: I see NPR is approaching CNN levels of "journalism"

NPR only mentions tweets. CNN would have based their whole story on tweets. They would have set up a conference tweet with a bevy of celebritards all twittering and tweeting away in the twitterverse while the CNN "news" staff all circle-jerked their way to a tweeterful twittergasm.

Although true, I hope you felt dirty after typing that.


I keep a box of handi-wipes for just such an occasion.
 
2014-06-04 06:17:33 AM  
If only.
 
2014-06-04 06:22:31 AM  
We do a fair number of conference calls here.  The reason people do them at their desk is to that they can "multitask" which means being non-productive at more than one thing at a time.

Favorite conference call moment from a female colleague in the advertising industry...

During the idle chit chat while you are waiting for everyone in three offices to get on the line, a guy starts talking about his recent vacation to the Grand Canyon and how much fun he had.  My friend says:

"One time I went down on a donkey."

Everyone in all three offices erupted in laughter. Took her quite a while to live that one down.
 
2014-06-04 06:24:41 AM  

bbcard1: We do a fair number of conference calls here.  The reason people do them at their desk is to that they can "multitask" which means being non-productive at more than one thing at a time.

Favorite conference call moment from a female colleague in the advertising industry...

During the idle chit chat while you are waiting for everyone in three offices to get on the line, a guy starts talking about his recent vacation to the Grand Canyon and how much fun he had.  My friend says:

"One time I went down on a donkey."

Everyone in all three offices erupted in laughter. Took her quite a while to live that one down.


I knew I should have gone into advertising.
 
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