Cut down corporate calling trees.

by Admin 14. August 2008

As a member of the e-Commerce team I get to work with several other departments that are customer facing to improve processes and aid in a better customer experience through the web. One department I have worked with heavily is the Call Center. Now, anyone who has ever tried to call a large company has experienced the labyrinthine touch-tone menu (calling tree) most employ. While I can’t offer you immediate satisfaction in knowing that the 1st Mariner touch-tone menu is perfect – we are working on it as I type this – I can offer you some help from a Canadian startup called that allows users to avoid those phone menus altogether.

Shai Berger is the co-founder and CEO of Fonolo. He debuts Fonolo in a talk "Mapping Phonespace" at the Emerging Communications (eComm) conference.

Fonolo works by using transcriptions of the phone menus of large companies so you can navigate them visually. You simply pick the company you need to call, scan through the company’s phone menu visually, and then click the spot you need. Fonolo will automatically dial, navigate the menu and then dial your phone. When you answer, you will be immediately connected to the right spot in the menu – this is also known as Deep Dialing.

A major benefit of Fonolo is the ability to maintain an “intelligent call history” where you can keep track of calls and conversations during a dispute. This includes storing text notes and saving recordings of each call. According to the company, transcriptions are coming soon.

The system is free and can be used on any phone, with no software to install. Fonolo will remain in limited use beta testing until September, 08 and there is no word on how far it’s geographically reach will be.


Tune out co-workers, or take a nap.

by Admin 8. August 2008

When I first started to work for 1st Mariner over three years ago I was right in the middle of a cubicle farm where fellow coworkers loved to congregate. After several weeks of knowing everything there is about Survivor, I finally came to the conclusion that I had two options: either tell them to go away or drown them out with music from my iPod. I chose the latter and unfortunately there was little relief. I have never been able to fully concentrate when music or a TV is on. However, I found a solution!

I found this via Delicious. SimplyNoise is a white noise generator that runs directly in your browser. This is a great service to aid in concentrating at work, or getting in the zone for a nap when the boss is gone. With SimplyNoise, you can dial in how much noise you want with a simple volume slider that’s independent of your system volume.

If you find having the browser window open in the background annoying, there’s also a standalone player over on



Secure email with Gmail.

by Admin 6. August 2008

For those of you that use Gmail as your primary email address, you can now set the web based email service provider to encrypt your communications as a default. While this will make it harder for third parties to snoop your email, it could also make email delivery slower too.

"Your computer has to do extra work to decrypt all that data, and encrypted data doesn't travel across the Internet as efficiently as unencrypted data," Gmail engineer Ariel Rideout said in a blog post. This is why they have left the choice up to the user.

The encryption is possible through HTTPS - Hypertext Transfer Protocol over Secure Socket Layer -, a secure version of the HTTP protocol that allows us to click on links, view pages, request information from servers and generally makes the web possible. The encryption is only between the browser and Gmail servers which is unlike other encryption software that encrypts email all the way from source to destination.

To encrypt your email, simply log in to your Gmail account and go to your account settings. You will find a section labeled Browser connection: where you will see two radio buttons. Select the option labeled Always us https to set as your default.


© 2008- 1st Mariner Bank