You’re reading Signal v. Noise, a publication about the web by Basecamp since 1999. Happy !


About Ann

Ann went to the same high school as the Unibomber and was once called a music snob by Cy Young award winner Jack McDowell. She is very concerned that you are not wearing enough sunblock.

We can't get this damn audio/video conferencing thing to work

Ann wrote this on 106 comments

or: It’s complicated until you make it simple

We’re smart people – we’ve been making collaboration software for the better part of a decade now. We live to connect people & information, no matter where in the world they are.

We’ve been having a problem that’s got us all scratching our heads. We want to have a (gasp) meeting, to present some ideas that we’ve all been working on. We’ll need to screen share, and talk to each other, and listen. All in real time. We’re scattered from Vancouver to Thailand.

We can’t figure it out. It’s the audio part that has us beat. And by ‘us’ I mean the people in the Chicago office. We can screen share, and one person can talk. But we have this great theater, full of people who can’t keep their mouths shut.

Our A/V Club reports our audio set up won’t support aggregate input devices, meaning another microphone. Our non-Chicago folks can hear the speaker, but not the audience comments. The result is pathos & fury, heads hung in failure, the stench and shame of defeat.

Here’s what we’ve tried:
- Campfire conference calls. They’re great if all you want to do is talk, which often we do. But if we need to screen share, we need something else.

- Speaker phone & screenshare via IM. Works great if there’s only one remote person. We need more people involved.

- Google Hangouts. Yup, we investigated it. Great service, but it’s limited to 10 people, unless you want a public hangout, which we don’t. (Sorry, it’s not personal)

- GoToMeeting & WebX & GoToMeeting works great for our Basecamp classes. They’re all great if we have one speaker.

- AdobeConnect. We need an “Enterprise Specialist” to help us connect. What does that even mean?

- Meet-ups. A few times a year, everyone hitches up their wagons & moseys to Chicago to interact in person. Having everyone in one room works flawlessly, but it’s not always practical.

SvN readers, we want to pick your juicy brains. How do you do this? We’re certain this is a solved problem. We’re appealing to your benevolence & mercy.

Let’s hear it.


Ann wrote this on 13 comments

This weekend during the Ravenswood Art Walk, I visited Lorna’s Laces. They hand-dye yarns in some really beautiful color combinations. I took some photos to share, because sometimes it’s nice to look at pretty things!

Designers, how do you put colors together? Where do you find inspiration?


Basecamp eliminates time zone math

Ann wrote this on 20 comments

Question: If your company is boarding a train at 1pm in Boston, but you’re living in Denver, and you have a client living in London, what time does the train reach Philadelphia?

Answer: You don’t have time to figure this out. You have work to do.

Basecamp can now eliminate the time zone confusion!


Welcome Chase & Joan!

Ann wrote this on 6 comments

Chase Clemons & Joan Stewart joined the support team on May 31. It’s only been 3 weeks, but they’re already making customers happy!

Chase had lots of experience with customer support in his role as manager at Jason’s Deli (he recommends the Chicago Club). He impressed us with his writing skills, and his advice on teamwork & customer support:

Only happy people can make other people happy. Make sure to treat your team great because they’re the ones who make the difference with the customer.

You can read more on his blog. A native of Nashville, Chase is very loyal to Tennessee whiskies.

Joan comes to us from Rapid City, South Dakota, where she worked at the Rapid City Public Library. Her advice on customer support:

Slow down and ask a few questions. Sometimes I’m too eager to solve the problem and it’s not really the problem they want solved. Just asking a few questions as nicely as possible to get more clarity helps a lot.

Joan proves, once again, that librarians are awesome. You can read her application & see for yourself!