Wednesday, June 6, 2007

How to do your next teleconference

If you are like me, you probably spend a lot of time on teleconference calls. And like it or not, these calls rarely have everyone joining at the same time, so you end up spending a lot of time waiting at the beginning of the call for everyone to dial in. A new Web-based service is trying to fix that and make these calls more useful.

The service is called, and while it isn’t cheap, the productivity gains could pay for the cost of the calls. Here is how it works. You sign up on the company’s Web page with your email address, and you get an account with 100 free minutes to try out the service. You enter your participants names and phones numbers using your browser, and set up when the call is to begin. Then the service calls everyone and joins them together for the conference.

NOTE: As of 9/1/07, they are redoing the service and rebranding it under So not sure if it is still working at the moment.

Since the service is making outgoing calls, they charge you for each minute that everyone is connected. So if your call last ten minutes and has five people – including you – then that consumes 50 total minutes. You can buy minutes in bulk (250 minutes for $30, 1000 minutes for $80) to recharge your account when you run low.

There are a lot of Web-based free conference calling services out there that work the old-fashioned way: you email people a dial-in number and a password, and you have to wait for your parties to initiate the calls and connect in. (I have a list of them on if you are interested.) Gaboogie is the first one that I know that initiates the calls. You can create teleconferences in Skype, but it isn’t as simple and you are limited to a maximum of five participants.

So I like the idea behind Gaboogie, but the service still has some quirks. The Web control panel for the moderator is somewhat terse. If you want your conference call recorded, you can set this up ahead of time but then you have to listen to a recurring beep to indicate the recording during the call. That is somewhat annoying. Once the call is done, however, the recording can be downloaded as an mp3 file or as an RSS feed for others to listen to. (It would be nice if the mp3 file could remove the beep indicators from the recording, then these could easily become nice podcasts.) And the recording includes about a minute of music on hold at the beginning and about another minute at the end of the call.

All in all, Gaboogie is an interesting twist on an old idea. And maybe it will save some time on your next teleconference.

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About Me

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David Strom has looked at hundreds of computer products over a more than 20 year career in IT and computer journalism. He was the founding editor-in-chief of Network Computing magazine, and now writes for Baseline, Information Security, Tom's Hardware, and the New York Times.