Archive for the ‘Tips & Tricks’ Category

A Practical Review: Google Voice

Running my own business, I am more or less required to check my voicemail multiple times a day, which is why it’s so unfortunate that it’s one of my least favorite things to do. I have always found voicemail too linear, slow, clumsy, and a generally arduous process. That was until I found Google Voice.

Google Voice offers many different ways to customize how people call you, how you receive calls, and how you receive voicemails. Google also lets you pick and choose which aspects of Google Voice you want to utilize so it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. Its also free and isn’t supported by ads!

Here’s the complete  Google Voice feature set:

  • Voicemail audio in your email inbox
  • Voicemail transcription in your email inbox
  • Voicemail transcription sent via SMS
  • Web access to voicemails
  • A single phone number that rings all your phones
  • Place calls via web interface
  • Send SMS via web interface
  • Keep an online address book
  • Log your call history
  • Custom greetings for different callers
  • Low cost International calling
  • Forward, embed, or download voicemails
  • Block calls
  • Send unwanted callers straight to voicemail
  • Record calls
  • Conference calls
  • Screen calls

That’s a whole lot of features to think about. The ability to use one or all of them was the selling point for me and probably the main reason the integration of Google Voice hasn’t negatively affected the other features of my phone/phone line/work flow.

The only feature I wanted to use in Google Voice was to be able to receive my voicemails via email. My work flow for managing and responding to emails was already bullet proof and simple: immediately flag emails that require me to do something and then unflag them once its been done. With my voicemails showing up in my inbox, now I can flag voicemails for followup in the same universally accessible platform as I flag emails. To activate this feature, all you have to do is go to the ’settings’ page in Google Voice and click, “activate Google Voicemail on this phone.”  Then they give you a number to dial based on your phone service provider which tells them to route your voicemail to Google.

While the email/SMS transcriptions are sometimes only 50% accurate, they are usally close to 90% intelligible if read phonetically. The audio files of the recording are also included in the email via an embedded player so you can cross check if necessary. Also, your old phone based voicemail will cease to function so make sure you have a data plan or you won’t be able to listen to your messages.

Currently, you can log in to your Google Voice account and place calls via the internet. Just type in a phone number and click ‘call’ – seconds later your phone will ring and as soon as you answer, the call begins ringing on the number your dialed online. FEATURE REQUEST: I would be on cloud 9 if Google would integrate this ‘internet dialing’ feature into general web browsing so that you could right-click any phone number on a website and ‘call’ it without ever having to transpose the number to your phone.  Google has been constantly adding features to Google Voice; hopefully this one isn’t far off.

I can highly recommend using Google Voice as your voicemail provider if you want to use your inbox as the hub for both your email and voicemail. As for the other features, you’ll have to experiment and find what’s right for you.

Written by Doogin

March 17th, 2010 at 8:22 am

Three Unique “Old Phone” Iphone Ringtones – FREE

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Ironic that the only good ringtone in this "phone of the future" is the sound of a telephone from the early 1900's.

Ironic that the only good ringtone in the "phone of the future" is the sound of a telephone from the early 1900's.

The Short Version: Love the ‘Old Phone’ ringtone for your iPhone, but want to be able to tell your calls apart from everyone else’s? Download 3 free unique ‘Old Phone’ ringtones HERE.

If you’re one of the cool kids, you probably already have an iPhone. And if you do, you probably also have the ringer set to ‘Old Phone’ just like the majority of people sitting in my neighborhood coffee shop this morning (myself included).

While in this crowded coffee shop, every 10 minutes I’d hear that oh-so-familiar sound and reach into my pocket. Not only was it never my phone that was ringing, but each time I’d notice a 1/2 dozen other people mistakenly grab for their phones too.

So then I got to thinking… What if i could find a different ‘Old Phone’ ringtone that still kept me running with the cool kids, but was distinct enough that I’d be able to differentiate it from everyone else. Well, the short story is I couldn’t. Everything i came across on the internet sounded too similar to the stock ‘Old Phone’.

I resorted to doing it the hard way and was able to track down some great public domain antique telephone samples, edit/master them in Sony Vegas, and then turn them into iPhone ringtones by following this tutorial.

The end result was 3 distinctive ‘Old Phone’ style ringtones that you can easily tell apart from the stock ringtone because they have two quick rings instead of the normal long one. Check out the samples:

Old Phone Sample #1 :

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Old Phone Sample #2 :

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Old Phone Sample #3 :

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I also stumbled across a great classic 80’s phone ring too:

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If you want to use any of these, you can download them as iPhone ringtones by clicking the link below. From there, all you do is expand the zip file, drag the ringtone files into iTunes and sync your iPhone. You may also have to go to the ‘ringtone’ tab in iTunes and tell it to sync your ringtones, if you haven’t already.

FREE DOWNLOAD – Three Unique “Old Phone” Iphone Ringtones

Enjoy, but stay away from my coffee shop:)

Written by Doogin

March 11th, 2010 at 6:32 am

The Windows Key and how it will change your life.

It seems fitting for a Microsoft product that the two most useful keystroke combinations in Windows have been around since Windows 95, and yet still the vast majority of computer users don’t know they’re literally at their fingertips.

I’m of course speaking of that little Windows Key on the bottom row of the keyboard that most people hit only on accident and then wonder why the heck their start menu just appeared. Well, it turns out that little bugger is quite handy and addictive. Are you ready to have your mind blown and your productivity forever increased? Here goes….

Windows-D
Pressing the Windows Key and the “D” key minimizes every open window and reveals the Desktop. Press it again and everything goes back to how it was.

Windows-E
Pressing the Windows Key and the “E” key opens Windows Explorer to “My Computer”.

Going back to the desktop or navigating to project directories is are two tasks I might do a hundred times over the course of a day, so I’m pleased to report these keystrokes are actually quite ergonomic and comfortable, and not the finger yoga that most other keystrokes are (I’m looking at your Alt-F4).There’s a handful more good-to-know key combinations you can do with the Windows Key, even a few new ones in Windows 7, but the two above are my bread and butter.

Written by Doogin

February 15th, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Posted in Tips & Tricks