Do more from afar: Webcon tools

Tags: Knowledge
Do more from afar: Webcon tools
Thanks to ever-improving connectivity, telecommuting — or “working from home”, if you’re feeling mundane — has become a truly feasible option for professionals across the board. Though Indian employers in general haven’t been rushing to embrace the practice, it is still easier to work from home today than it was even half a decade ago.

Attending meetings and collaborating with a remote team is now a piece of cake with a wide variety of tele- and web-conferencing as well as desktop sharing tools. Whether you are a business owner with remote employees and clients, or a freelancer or telecommuter who needs to hook up with “office”, distance is no longer an excuse not to get your work done. You don’t even need any fancy gadgets or complicated set-up, or even a fat wallet — your regular computer and internet connection are more than sufficient.

You are quite likely to have one such tool already installed in your system: Skype. Most of us probably use Skype for instant messaging or video chatting with friends and family for free. However, it does have a few others tricks up its sleeve — such as file transfers, desktop sharing and call conferencing. You can conference with up to 25 people at a time, and one-on-one video chatting and screen sharing is allowed for free. A premium account (starting at €7 per month, approximately Rs 500) gives you group video chats of up to 10 people and group screen sharing (and free unlimited calls to a country of your choice from a list provided). Skype works on Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Android, Symbian and Windows Phone (though features might be limited on some platforms).

Need something a little more sophisticated — like remote control of a machine along with long-distance meetings with multiple participants? TeamViewer is a well-known name in this department and gets a rating of five stars (“spectacular”) from CNET. TeamViewer offers an impressive set of features encompassing remote access/control tools as well as remote meetings with up to 25 participants. It’s completely free for non-commercial use, though companies need to pay. Go to Teamviewer.com for details. The application is very easy to set up and works on Mac OS, Windows and Linux, and has apps for Android, iOS and Windows 8/RT.

Another excellent choice for hosting webinars and webcons is AnyMeeting. AnyMeeting.com will not just host your web conferences, with a generous 200-participant allowance for free (ad-supported), it also comes with a bevy of related features, starting from planning your meeting, sending invitations, promoting it on social networks and creating feedback surveys. Screen sharing, application sharing, file transfers and video conferencing — it is a truly comprehensive service. And if you don’t like the ads, you can always choose a premium package.

There are plenty of other options, of course. Google Hangouts, for instance, allows video conferencing for up to 10 people and also lets you stream live from your computer. There are some interesting apps for mobile devices as well. Of course, if you’re on a Mac, you already have screen sharing software built into the software.

Go to System Preferences → Sharing → Screen Sharing. For lucid step-by-step instructions, visit osxdaily.com and search for “screen sharing”.

Thus, whether you need to remotely attend or host a meeting, give a presentation, or even do some remote tech support, you will definitely find an application that suits your needs. And as you can see, it won’t bite the pocket either. zz

(Payal Dhar is a freelance

technology writer)


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