Missing a Meeting Due to Volcanic Ash? Check Out These Tools

The ash cloud caused by the eruption of a volcano beneath the Eyjafjallajoekull glacier in Iceland has caused travel chaos across much of northern Europe, and the disruption is now stretching into a second week. Airports are closed, flights are grounded, passengers are stranded — and many meetings are being missed.

While in some cases a face-to-face meeting is an absolute necessity, sometimes you can get by using technology. If you’re grounded this week, give these apps a try — they’re all available for very low cost (and some of them are free).

  • Skype For a quick teleconference with a few participants, VoIP service Skype is great. You can use a webcam for video calling, and the latest versions of the software enable screen sharing. The basic Skype service is free, and the client software is available for Windows, Mac, Linux and many mobile devices.
  • Dimdim — For larger meetings, you’ll need a more robust web conferencing tool than Skype. My personal favorite is Dimdim, as it’s got a great feature set for a good price. Other tools available include WebEx and GoToMeeting.
  • SocialText — Corporate social networking tools are useful for communicating with colleagues and keeping them up-to-date with what you’re working on. SocialText is very full-featured (it’s kind of like Facebook for businesses), but there are other, simpler tools, such as Yammer and present.ly.
  • 5pm — A good project management tool can go a long way toward keeping stakeholders informed about the progress of a project, reducing the need for update meetings. I like 5pm as it’s well-designed, but other good options include Basecamp and Wrike.
  • OffiSync — The latest version of OffiSync (a nifty little program that allows you to sync Office documents using a Google Docs account) allows for document co-authoring — which means that two or more people can work simultaneously on the same document. While it’s never going to be as good as being in the same room with your co-workers, if you need to collaborate on a document remotely, it’s worth trying. Free.
  • Tungle — Need to reschedule your meeting? Free app Tungle will help you find a time that’s convenient for everyone.

Are you affected by the ash cloud? What are you doing about it?

Photo courtesy Flickr user thorvaldurkarl, licensed under CC

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