Friday, February 29, 2008

Grandly grand, centrally central

My co-worker Jason alerted me to a brand-new telephony beta service. Thanks Jay-fi! Although I'm not a certified bell-head (which was a term used for the lifers at the phone company when I worked there), I am fascinated by telephony, have done some minor switch programming and follow the industry news. Grand Central (now known as Google Voice) is the most intriguing new service to come out in a while - it is very similar to an old offering I remember Ameritech made, which required a special docking station for your cell phone which then allowed you to take advantage of least call routing. (More historical info is available from Wikipedia's Grand Central entry; for a more detailed walkthrough of the tool itself see Consolidate Your Phones with GrandCentral from Lifehacker.) I signed up yesterday, and finished my configurations today. I found the following features to be the neatest:

  1. Clicking the button below will send you to v-mail, which is then available on a web interface for me to play back, forward, post here, or whatever!
  2. I set up a number which will now ring to the multitude of devices myself and my husband own, and I can give that number out to people who need to reach our household, and not any particular one of us (e.g. the PTA, utility company, vet's office, etc.)
  3. I no longer have to scramble to find a particular phone that is ringing; either of my cell phones or my home land line will ring and I can answer it.
  4. I'm screening calls now; if you call and don't have your caller id name id'd, then you'll be asked to record your name before the call is routed to me. Take that, telemmarketers!
  5. I can use a rudimentary economizing methodology for my inbound telephone calls, and answer inbound calls to my cellular number on the land line when it is advantageous for me to do so. I can also check my voice mail on the web, instead of using my cell minutes or incurring a local phone charge to do so.
  6. I'm not using it this way, but if I wanted to provide a convenient local number to a group of friends in a different area code so that they could reach me with a local call to that number.
  7. It is easily reversible - if I don't like the service, I can bail and go back to my old methods easily.

Note to self: I have to check out some old 2600 issues and see what they have to say about this.