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Technology Untangled: Versatile conference calling available with Spiderphone

Stephen Bour
October 9, 2013
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technology-bourSpiderphone sounds like the hotline for that imaginary masked superhero. It is, instead, a useful and inexpensive Web-assisted telephone conferencing system that makes it easy to set up and conduct multiple-caller speakerphone meetings.

First off, why is it called Spiderphone? According to their website, conference call engineers refer to each connection to a conference as a “leg.” Spiders have lots of legs and, of course, they are on a web. Silly name aside, Spiderphone is a versatile communication tool.

I originally discovered Spiderphone because I was fed up with the cost and hassle of setting up multiple call-in speakerphone events through the phone company. I tried some Internet-based VoIP conferencing solutions but was unimpressed with the call quality. Spiderphone offered the simplicity, high quality and low cost I was looking for. The bonus was discovering all of the extra features that Spiderphone provides when managing conference calls using the Web.

While the system uses the Internet, the voice part of the telephone conference is conducted over traditional high-quality digital phone lines. This is not an Internet-based VoIP communication system, so it is not susceptible to the variable quality and performance issues that sometimes affect VoIP calling. I also like this service because all the servers, telephone bridge hardware and support services are based in the U.S.

Signup was quick, easy and free. If you have a need for a conference call today, you can be ready to go in five minutes. Creating the account is just like signing up for anything else on the Internet. You enter some basic information, including – of course – a credit card. There is no setup fee. You will then be provided a PIN and a permanent conference code that will be used by all participants whenever they call in for a conference you have set up. After initial signup, initiating a conference call takes no time at all, and you don’t even need a computer at that point. However, there are some advantages to using the computer, which I will discuss later.

The easiest way to proceed is with an on-demand call (no reservation needed), initiated from any phone. You provide your participants with the call time, the dial-in number for the Spiderphone switchboard and the conference code. As moderator, you then dial into the switchboard first and enter your PIN, then simply wait for the others to call in at the appointed time.

Billing for calls is as low as 4.5 cents per minute, per participant. If you choose to offer your attendees a toll-free dial-in number, your cost as moderator increases to 6 cents per minute, per participant. There are also monthly flat rate plans available.

If you prefer, you can set up a reservation for a conference through the Spiderphone website. This has the advantage of allowing you to generate email notifications for all participants that include hotlinks for them to click to connect via telephone to join the conference, as well as to connect via the Web to view additional information during the conference. The system even allows the option for the participant to receive a call to initiate participation in a conference. Alternately, participants can simply dial the phone number and the code provided in the email.

There are several advantages for participants using the Web-assisted interface while talking in the phone conference. First, you can see information displayed about all who are participating in the call. But more importantly, the identity of the specific person talking at any moment during the call is displayed, or more precisely, the line for each call participant is displayed. The system cannot differentiate between two attorneys who are sharing the same speakerphone in an office. This can be very useful during a deposition to quickly identify who is posing an objection, for example. It can also be helpful for sorting things out in situations when there are large numbers of phone-in participants involved.

There are additional interactive features. Electronic documents such as exhibits can be uploaded, downloaded and shared during a call, all from within the Spiderphone Web interface. This means you don’t have to fuss with e-mailing attachments to other participants while in the midst of a call. You can even upload and share PowerPoint presentations and audio and video clips. You can also send individual, private text messages to other participants during a call. This could be useful for attorneys to communicate with their paralegals about questions during a deposition, for example.

The audio from a call can be recorded and shared. As moderator, you can set up for automatic recording when making a conference reservation or you can choose to start recording at any time during a conference by simply clicking the “record” button. The system will automatically insert a “record” notification announcement. The recordings can then be downloaded by participants after the meeting, if you choose to allow it. Be aware, there is an additional fee for recording.

Spiderphone offers many other features and services that are worth exploring. You can learn more about them at www.spiderphone.com, or at their newer website: www.conferencecallcenter.com. There you will also find an offer for a 20-minute free-trial conference call.•

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Stephen Bour (bourtech@iquest.net) is an engineer and legal technology consultant in Indianapolis. His company, the Alliance for Litigation Support Inc., includes Bour Technical Services and Alliance Court Reporting. Areas of service include legal videography, tape analysis, document scanning to CD and courtroom presentation support. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author.
 

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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