Sorry to hear of DimDim’s demise, welcome new Yuuguu customers!

January 14th, 2011 by Alan Mellor, almellor

Bad news

Interesting industry news this week has been that Salesforce.com has acquired DimDim. Apparently existing contracts will be honoured, but no new DimDim customers will be taken.

On a personal note, if this means job losses (I don’t know) then my sincere condolences. That’s never easy on the people and families involved. We always thought DimDim were pretty worthy competitors in the overall scheme of things.

If you’ve followed Yuuguu on twitter for any length of time, you’ll know that we don’t do that awful trick of trying to persuade our competitor’s customers to use our service instead. We’re pretty happy about standing on our own two feet.


All the ‘screen sharing’ service providers – when you get into details – actually target different customers. Yuuguu is particularly good at Business Collaboration, and, increasingly, Unified Communications. Some of our work – like how we integrate one-click, browser-based group screen sharing into Skype is pretty innovative, as well as being useful. I digress. So you will never have seen the statement ‘DimDim people come to Yuuguu’ … errr, until you just read it then. Not our style, thank you very much.

Good news

But equally, it has been a pleasure for me personally to talk to a lot of new Yuuguu customers this week. Certainly, it seems that for a good deal of people, changing to Yuuguu has resulted in considerable cost saving (just £59/$79 for a full year!). Many people also like our simple, easy to use, just-works-without-complicated-setup ethos as well.

So my personal thanks for your time and trust in checking us out.

Even better news!

And you couldn’t have picked a better time. We’re close to a fairly major new release which will definitely delight our existing customers (definitely…) as well as our latest users. Our roadmap for 2011, following our own acquistion by Conference Calling company Powwownow is pretty exciting. Can’t say too much, but definite moves towards better integrated Unified Communications to come.

Should be a good year.

Do keep in touch …

To all our new found friends, we like to keep in touch, so make sure you:



And always remember we’re here to build the best collaboration/conferencing product there is, so all your feedback is most warmly welcomed.


Oh yes. And don’t forget to subscribe to this blog ;-)

Until next time
A warmest welcome from Al Mellor

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Happy New Year! Here’s to better meetings in 2011

January 7th, 2011 by Alan Mellor, almellor

Greetings.

Turns out there is one meeting you absolutely, definitely, positively cannot use Yuuguu for: Christmas Day with friends, family and children opening presents!

Our family had a great time over the break, and whilst we did send the odd Instant Message to each other (really!) it has to be said that even Yuuguu can’t make a Turkey taste good remotely.

But anyway. A very Happy New Year from me (Al) for 2011. All of us here at Yuuguu wish you every success, and hope that we can help in some way with our great-value web conferencing and collaboration tools.

We’ve certainly got a really busy roadmap this year, and if all plans work out, Yuuguu will have some extremely compelling new capabilities by the time I say Happy New Year again for 2012.

Upcoming new release

We have a new release coming out shortly – which will appear on your automatic Yuuguu upgrades, without you having to do anything – and I’ll let you know here and on twitter when it finally escapes QA into the real world. As always, we would love your feedback on it then.



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TED Talk: Why work doesn’t happen at work

December 9th, 2010 by Alan Mellor, almellor

Some interesting points in this TED talk by Jason Fried of collaboration company 37 signals.


He raises the point that ‘The Office’ is very important in most companies, in terms of cost, and the management desire to force people to attend one – and yet very often is not the place where productive work is done.

His argument is a little more nuanced than ‘so don’t use one’. Jason recognises that people are individual, and have different needs and tastes with regard to how they give their best. For example, some people are more creative late at night or at weekends. Some work needs to be done without the distraction inherent in ‘Management By Wandering Around’ practices.



In my own experience, I have found that I am very good at doing routine tasks in an office environment, sat close to other staff. But I simply for the life of me cannot script an original presentation.

For that, I have to go in a quiet room – and speak it out loud. I experiment with how several of the lines sound, with how I want to express ideas. I will make sure that key points scan well – so they sound nice. I pace up and down like an idiot. I don’t know why I do that; I know it sure does look off-putting to other staff – and I know that if I don’t do it, my thought processes stop.

I suspect I am not alone. Okay; maybe I *am* alone in my own specific weirdness – my wife seems to think that – but I reckon we all have something similar. Some individualistic ‘not-quite-the-done-thing’ way of getting the best out of us on behalf of our team. Some way that a typical office setting is not flexible enough to accommodate.

It’s at this point I would recommend taking that brave management decision: what do you really want? The best from your individual, talented staff? Or to do the done thing and follow The Rules ™ which clearly state that at all times, all staff are seated at a desk?



Interesting – as always – TED talk. What are your experiences? Any aspect of your work that you do better outside of the confines of the office?




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Is working in the office a skive?

December 3rd, 2010 by Alan Mellor, almellor

Office worker lazing in chair with book from www.sxc.hu/photo/1269293

(inspired by this BBC article)

As UK snow levels rise and desire to venture out falls faster than a thawed snowman’s scarf, we ask ourselves ‘can working in an office ever be a skive?’.

The received wisdom appears to be that remote workers cannot be trusted to do anything other than watch Jeremy Kyle (UK daytime TV; US readers simply breathe a sigh of relief. You simply do not want to know -ed). As a result, many are forced to difficult, depressing and often dangerous travels to an office somewhere.

So, conclusive proof. Home work equals skiving. The solution is simply to stick said skiver in an office, where skiving – so it is believed – is impossible.

But must we home skivers really accept this? Is there really no way we can practice our beloved skiving away from home comforts?

We sent our roving investigators out to an office somewhere in the frozen wastelands of the UK to find out if anything could be done.

We found that all was not lost.

Such were the findings that our reporters hid their notes, fearing reprisals. But we found them on wikileaks.ch anyway. Here is what they discovered:

The Watercooler Technique

Rather satisfyingly, a basic technique that is rather easy to pull off, requiring only equipment readily found to hand. The plastic cup is held firmly in the right hand and filled with water. A quick glance around the office should be enough to attract an accomplice. A cursory ‘Did you get that project plan?’ should be all that is needed to attract the accomplice over, and proceed to discuss just how poor last night’s match was, and how rubbish iPhone battery life actually is. All essential business stuff.

The Reverse Telecommute

Modern technology leaves no stone unturned, and the most popular technique we investigated was the Reverse Telecommute. Requires web browser access. From the sumptuous comfort – and free coffee, lighting, heating and internet – of your office chair, simply log in to your personal finances! Buy christmas presents online! Even arrange redeliveries of your friend’s sofa! All without even making a sound.

For extra effect, a few looks of concentration every now and then, as if on some difficult problem, should be enough to secure not only success but probably an Oscar.

The Stores Run

Modern business cannot survive on words alone. There are staplers, pens, stamps, envelopes, tea, milk, sandwiches, the office group lottery ticket. These items don’t appear magically you know! Someone has to get them. Our investigators were told the word ‘shop’, but in fact heard ‘opportunity’. They found that, on average, a shop run to buy a pint of milk lasts 1:42min 13 seconds, and involves several essential visits to the gadget shop, Oddbins, Tesco and that place that sells cheap SD cards for digital cameras.

The Clipboard

Our researchers found ‘The Clipboard’ was by far the most efficacious technique, but can only be pulled off with a certain amount of skill. Advanced skivers only. The props are simple. One needs a clipboard, pen, and a sheet of A4 paper on the clipboard with some arcane notes.

The technique involves bustling around the office at various locations, scrawling notes as you go. If various objects can be ‘examined’ along the run, this adds to the effect. The illusion – in the hands of experts – is complete: Important work! Deadline NOW!!

The additional master-level tactic is to wear a furrowed scowl throughout, to indicate that you are simply too busy to be interrupted with any other requests. For the professional skiver, this technique can actually go undetected for several weeks, especially if the luxury of ‘multiple departments’ is available.

It appears we skivers can all relax. The rumours of the death of skiving in the office have been greatly exaggerated.

I’d finish this piece with a witty sign out, but frankly – today, I’m working from hom….

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Winners and Turkeys

November 26th, 2010 by Alan Mellor, almellor

Two things of note this week:

Winners!

PowWowNow team receiving B2B Award for Best Limited Budget Campaign

Congratulations are due to our friends at PowWowNow who scooped up the award for ‘Best limited budget campagn’ at last night’s B2B awards. Great win for two reasons: Who doesn’t have a limited budget? And have you seen who the competiton was? Well done!

Turkeys!

A big Hi to our many Stateside customers!


Back here in chilly old Blighty, the 25th of November is pretty much a resting day between Fireworks Night (Nov 1) and mad pre-Christmas panic, which runs pretty much Dec 01 – Dec 24! Not so in the US of A, so I understand: Thanksgiving Day has been and gone.

We hope you had a great time, and managed to get to wish all of your family a very happy day. But in case you couldn’t quite travel round to see everyone, why not fire up Yuuguu and give them a conference call.

That’s right – the whole lot! Everyone! Mom, Pa, Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents – the works. It’s by far the cheapest and easiest way of getting all those people talking together by phone, all at the same time!



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Removing the last barrier to working from home

November 19th, 2010 by Alan Mellor, almellor

You know the scene …

Yuuguu cut out and keep working from home desk sign

You: Boss – I could really use a work-from-home day next friday, we’ve got some builders coming round. I don’t want them knocking the wrong wall down, so I want to meet them.


Boss: (looks furtively at a spreadsheet that has lines and numbers but no information of any use). Huh?


You: Work from home – next Friday – me!


Boss: Oh that. It’s too difficult. IT have said no.


You: They did say no, that’s true, but then I showed them this Yuuguu thing, remember? Last team meeting? Just works across our firewall out of the box?


Boss: Hmmm, Oh. Yeah. It did, didn’t it. But … errr … it’s too expensive.


You: Unlike your two iPads I see you’ve got there. Anyway … the free trial I talked about?… and did you actually check that pricing page I sent you?


Boss: Oh .. that … ah. Yes. Well. I … well it’s just not that simple, you wouldn’t understand.


You: ( ! )


Boss: I .. errr … The Company … errr …. ‘we’ need to make sure that we could contact you, you know, if anything errr, anything err comes up, unexpectedly.


You: Tada!




And you pull out this handy Cut out and Keep Desk Sign we are giving you AT NO COST!


Simply:



And leave on your desk, where everyone can see it. The perfect marriage of low tech and high. The perfect compromise between remote work and availability.

At last – the final barrier to remote work at your office removed.

Until next week, At your service pulling down tiresome arguments against remote work -

Al

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Top 5 Lunches remote working finally allows you to enjoy!

November 12th, 2010 by Alan Mellor, almellor

Remote work let's you eat these - onions!

It has come to the attention of Yuuguu Central that the Future of Work is even brighter than we first thought.

Yes, it’s greener. Yes, it’s cheaper. Yes it’s more flexible. This much we know. But the real scoop?

Lunch.

We identified lunch as a ‘High Level Hazard’ for the office bound employee. It’s a jungle out there. There are the social norms – who sits with who? Who dares break rank from the pecking order of the canteen queue? The IT security issues: Did you really remember to lock your PC? Or will you spend this afternoon apologising for all the fake emails sent from ‘you’ by the IT interns? And there are even moral dilemmas thrown into the mix. Do you endure the hard road of sticking to your diet and exercise regime? Or succumb to the comforting easy pleasure of the pub lunch (again)?

Our Risk Analysis Spreadsheet never looked so grim.

Or so we thought. Until we looked at the upside. And like most upsides, we found it by simply looking at the greatest hazard through creative eyes.

The most difficult water that the hungry office worker has to navigate is choosing what to eat. A simple thing? By no means. Dare you eat what you like – but risk breaking the binding social contract of Maximum Permitted Office Stench? Or do you simply follow the herd – play safe, and become consigned to a life of sweetcorn and mayo salad (no onions)?

We realised immediately that we had a Future of Work winner on our hands. There is pure joy in being freed from office politics to be able to eat whatever you want, whenever you want it. So for your delight and delectation:

Team Yuuguu’s Top Five Remote Worker Lunches

  • 1. Curry

    Oh yes. A long time favourite of Team Yuuguu, something like a Chicken Pathia is sure to fire up the imagination in the afternoon. And possibly other areas. As a remote worker, the office-clearing properties of the garlic and chilli laden curry need only concern yourself. Result!
  • 2. Beetroot

    Our very own CTO Chris suggested Beetroot; that innocuous looking vegetable, with juice capable of rendering any office white shirt into something resembling the latest Saw movie. And yet all is well in the land of the remote worker. Your own, personal washroom facility and change of clothes is but a moment away.
  • And yes, we did ask: Beetroot? What – raw? The man must be an animal! Chris declined to expound further …

  • 3. Raw Onions

    Ah yes. Perhaps mild onions may be the edgiest thing you may dare to ask for on your salad whilst office-bound. Experience true freedom all the way up the onion scale! From freshly chopped strong onions all the way up to that slightly nauseous feeling found only on coaches on hot days where everyone took beef paste and onion sandwiches for lunch.

  • 4. Garlic German Sausage

    ‘Ist keine problem’ for the teleworker.

  • 5. Yesterday’s Blue Cheese and Tuna salad

    Blue cheese and tuna can leave an aroma that can test even the brave. Yet, prepared in the right hands, it can be a delight to eat (you probably want @phillColeman, and not @almellor on that job). We’re not quite sure if Mike’s suggestion of “yesterday’s” salad was borne from personal experience or not. But just when we thought we had covered all the benefits of remote work, in crashes another winner: You don’t even need to clean the kitchen if you don’t want to!


And as a bonus, perhaps the most intriguing suggestion:

6. Naked Lunch Friday

One of our staff, who shall remain nameless (@phillcoleman, whoops, slipped out, my backspace key seems to be broken…) suggested this gem. We’re not sure what’s more worrying, really. The sight of Phill eating his curry in one of his normal football shirts … or this. But either way, as a remote worker, even this ultimate option is available to you.

Do switch your video conferencing off, first, though.

Til next time –
Happy Unregulated Eating!

Al

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The 3 incontrovertible reasons you should remote work next friday

November 5th, 2010 by Alan Mellor, almellor

Working from a rather nice home by lute1 at sxc.huGo on.

Take up my challenge: declare a remote-work-next-friday day for your team.

I am speaking to all of you business leaders, mid managers and execs who have never even tried getting your team to work remotely. It’s all very well me in this blog talking endlessly about the benefits of remote work. But if nobody converts that into action – nobody will realise them. But you can change that today.

Three reasons you should do this

“But wait! – We’ve never done this before! We can’t just do this on friday!”.

What nonsense. And here are three utterly sensible reasons why.


1. Because you will boost morale

The very first time you walk in to your team and say ‘Hey – this week, we’re working from home’ it will feel almost as good as a holiday. There is enormous personal capital in creating what is perceived as a ‘perk’. Don’t get me wrong, your team will be working for you just as hard, if not harder. But it is pleasant to avoid your commute for a day, to make your own coffee, to have your own space.

Because you have chosen to offer this, you will find that the next time you need to rouse the troops to cope with something difficult, they will remember that you were there for them in the good times.

I’ve seen it happen.

2. Because you will see your team step up to the plate

Control freaks don’t get this. They see teams as doing nothing and going nowehere unless they are micro-managed to within an inch of their lives. Let me speak as someone who has been both a follower and leader of a team.

No!

Nobody is standing over my shoulder as I write this now. I’m writing it because – along with many other tasks I have to do today – it needs to be done to build the company I work for. To clarify – I’m not the owner of the company.

If you place faith in your team, they will return that faith in you

As a leader, that might just be an incredible lesson and reward for you – watching your team grow as you give direction, then slacken the reigns.

3. Because this means change

I’m indebted to Seth Godin’s blog for this one. We all want to do better than we are doing now. This will mean doing things differently than we do now. Obvious, really. If we don’t, we can only ever expect to get the same results as we do now. But our fear – Seth calls it ‘the lizard brain’ – stops us from changing anything – in case we make things worse by mistake.

By organising a single, remote-working friday, you are trying something new. It is not a central business-level change kind of new, so you are not risking that much – you will still be shipping the same products and services as you did on thursday. But you are exploring a possible new way to do something. You have conquered the inertia and fear, and you are experimenting with a new business technique.

Even if this doesn’t work – you’ve started a habit; trying things, not just doing the same things as you always did. This is a mindset, a way of perceiving the world and its possibilities around you. It is this mindset that will eventually lead you to identify – and act on – whatever change it is that results in bigger success.

So, go on. Just one day. Remote work friday.

Just remember, it works for us at Yuuguu – and we make it happen using our own product. Just sign up for a trial from our site, and start remote work friday!

Good luck! Let me know how you get on – the good, the bad and the ugly stories!




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Business advice: Trust that foot!

October 29th, 2010 by Alan Mellor, almellor

Have you ever felt that work was driving you up the wall? Well, it did for us the other day. Literally!

Together with the team from PowWowNow we ventured to a bouldering place at London Bridge. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you see it) yours truly had a compact camera about his person that could take the odd video clip. So, for your delight and delectation:


Video will appear here.


Free business advice: Trust that foot!

And here’s some great and free life/work advice I picked up that day from our trainer: ‘trust that foot’.

There was a very specific moment when I needed to put all my weight on my right foot without having quite enough handgrips to keep me on the wall. It felt simply like I would fall off. I made a few half-hearted attempts to keep hold of the grips I had, and was never really able to move. But there was a small handhold a bit higher. The trick was to simply go for it. Put all your weight on that foot, push yourself up with it, and simply balance during the movement. The next handhold would become in reach before you fell off: ‘Trust that foot’.

It felt great to achieve that little thing. It struck me at the time though just how powerful both fear and encouragement actually are. Just those few words helped me override what my sensible – fearful – mind was saying, and do something that seemed impossible.

It never was. It just needed me to trust that foot.

Amazing what you can do when you will take a risk.

Have fun til next week -
Al ‘Man of Adventure’ Mellor ;)

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Apparently we’re hot stuff – or is that you?

October 22nd, 2010 by Alan Mellor, almellor

According to Britain’s Hot Talent 2010 (check page 84. That will be us)Britain's Hot Talent Report - front cover graphic

As the tears artificially well up in my eyes, and I finish thanking my producer, writer, director and mom, it’s nice to note that whilst awards and nominations are feelgood-fun, our business is about you; our dear user.

Like all tools, Yuuguu doesn’t actually do anything in and of itself. It’s some computers on the internet, some clever software for Mac, PC and Linux, and a whole bunch of ones and zeros flying across airwaves and copper.



Except that it isn’t. That picture changes completely when we add you.


Yuuguu helps you book your dream holiday – with confidence.

Yuuguu gets your architect talking to the site foreman, improving your new-build dream home.

Yuuguu gets you help from experts in your field around the globe when you are stuck.

Yuuguu helps you get your new business idea off the ground with low cost, personal sales.

Yuuguu lets your training expertise be heard worldwide. As it should be.

Yuuguu involves your clients in your design, so that they love what you deliver.


So while it’s nice Friday news to be recognised as a company of ‘Hot Talent’, I think the award belongs to you.

Take a bow.



Till next week – have a good one
Al



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