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Grandcentral –- mother of all phone services

Recently grandcentral.com (one phone number for life – humm… may be like social security number? Hu?) is came out of beta. After less than a year in beta condition, this service (it’s free so far) getting known to users who is looking an alternative number for home, to control/filter incoming calls. This service allows you to select your phone area code of your choice, pick the phone number that will stick to you as long as you want regardless of your existing or any future phone carriers you use. (free local US phone number from 47 states) Then connect your existing (and future) phone number to your grandcentral.com number so that all of your phone number will ring when that (grandcentral.com number) is called.

1. It offers centralized voice mail, verity of music while caller wait for you to pick up, including different customizable tunes)
2. you will get an email with the voicemail attached as a WAV file.
3. Personalize your voicemail greetings by caller or group.
4. Record calls on the fly and access recordings online
5. Receive voicemail notifications via email or SMS
6. Let people call you from a web page without showing your number
7. One number that rings different phones based on who’s calling
8. And More …

Greandcentral is offering tons of features (you won’t get this much even if you want to pay to your existing phone company.) See all these features here: http://www.grandcentral.com/howitworks/


The best of my knowledge, it is working as advertised. However, some of the linkedin users expressed few concerns regarding GrandCentral free phone number service:

1) You can only get one number at this time
2) Since the service is free, you feel some insecurity about your future use of the number
3) SMS “Text” messages don’t work through GrandCentral, I can’t give it as my “only” number. I have to say: use XYZ number for sending me text messages, and ABC number for calling me.
4) No voice recognition for prompts, so it’s impossible to use while driving and/or using a Bluetooth headset.

As a side note, GrandCentral is also helping those (who can’t afford a phone service) in need stay connected by offering individuals a local phone number and voicemail box for life through project CARE initiative, GrandCentral is providing, free of charge, a local phone number and voicemail box to members of the homeless community in San Francisco and hoping to extend this program nationwide as they build out this service.

How you can get your (free) telephone number? Reserve it here

Extra info for small business owner:

If you are looking for similar high quality, functionality rich telephony/VOIP PBX system for your business, ring central is the answer for you. Read more here: RingCentral Small Business Phone Service

Extra reading:

1. Chan, Wesley. Official Google Blog: All aboard. Google.

2. Pogue, David. One Number That Will Ring All Your Phones, The New York Times.

via [Ringcentral blog and linkedin.com/answers, mymoneyblog and Top 10 Telephone Tricks]

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Jaxtr is out of Beta, Free International Calls

February 26th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted in Digital home, HowTo, Phone, Skype, Tech/Biz News, VOIP, Voice Over IP (VOIP) by admin

Jaxtr was launched in March 2007 by Phillip Mobin and Touraj Parang with the operation to get voice to social networks and blogs. With the free jaxtr service, users can link their phones with their online network to hear from callers worldwide while keeping their existing phone numbers private. Jaxtr is claiming 10 million users worldwide in 50+ countries. Tonight jaxtr officially came out of beta and adapt the “1.0″ status!

Jaxr is a widget that users can put into their social networking sites or blogs. When someone has a jaxtr widget, it means you can call them in real-time. Jaxtr members assign a specific number to their widget.

When a caller sees that widget, they can click it and jaxtr will ask them for their own phone number. The caller’s phone will ring, and when the caller picks up, jaxtr will ring the recipient who originated the widget. If the recipient was not available, jaxtr will notify them that they have a voicemail that they can access by calling into their jaxtr service.

Things to note in the 1.0 jaxtr service:

• Free International and national calling and receive phone call to/from other Jaxtr member.
• Free International Text Messaging: You can now log into your jaxtr account and send text messages to your family & friends in over 30 countries for free
• Cafe Jaxtr Talk Network: It’s a social communications place; they have built a global network of users where any user calls to other user. Of course you have to set your privacy setting accordingly. For example, routes a call from unknown callers to your jaxtr digital voicemail box, so that only people you approve can call your phone through jaxtr. Users can list photos of themselves and interests at café jaxtr and things they like to talk about.

How to get started?
It’s simple! Sign-up to create your FREE jaxtr account, link your existing phones, and post your jaxtr link or Call-Me! widget to your favorite social network or blog.

The first time a friend uses your jaxtr link, they are connected to you for free through jaxtr’s automatic call-back feature. They also receive a local number which they can use to call you directly in the future, regardless of where you live in the world. Click here to see how jaxtr works!

In order for someone to call you, they must first use your jaxtr Call-Me widget. (Register here to get one) Send them your jaxtr link: e.g.: http://www.jaxtr.com/YOUR_SCREEN_NAME (like this) or direct them to your favorite social network or blog where you’ve posted your jaxtr widget. The jaxtr widget can be easily posted to popular sites such as Facebook, Orkut, MySpace, LinkedIn, Blogger, LiveJournal, Xanga, Flickr, Craigslist, eBay, and many others.

When using your jaxtr widget for the 1st time, jaxtr will automatically connect the caller to you through jaxtr’s Call-Back feature. Jaxtr will also provide them a special jaxtr number they can use in the future to reach you directly.

How to make it work for you?

1. After registering, link your regular phone(s) where you want to receive/make calls.
2. Invite your friends.
3. You are all set.
4. When you plan to call one of your friends, just create a number for them in your account. (Remember, you have to provide your number when it says, ‘Call me Free’, you don’t have to enter your friends’ phone number.)
5. Jaxtr will assign a number for your friend so that you can call them anytime you want for free. (Of course your cell phone or regular phone charges apply, depending on your cell phone plan)
6. Every month you get 100 free jax minutes. (Currently, they do not sale more minutes, even if you want to, may be in 2.0 version?)

Via [Jaxtr Blog]

Buying Zimbra is a brilliant move

September 18th, 2007 | No Comments | Posted in Tech/Biz News, Technology Talk, VOIP, Voice Over IP (VOIP), Yahoo! by admin

It was great to see YAHOO decide to buy Zimbra.  Yahoo! has paid $350 million to purchase Zimbra. They have a fantastic product that has really just begun to gain traction in the corporate market. It is also available for consumer like me and you with their desktop support product. Zimbra makes some impressive open source communication tools for online/offline use. The company has a powerful e-mail client, calendar, and VoIP features.

I really do hope that this is a sign of things to come for Yahoo, and that they have chosen to deploy their assets for a few strategic acquisitions such as this. Recently they bought several companies as a part of their strategic planning for coming years!

This was a very, very smart acquisition. In one quick move Yahoo is now in the race with Google for the next generation online/offline office suite. I would not be surprised to see them pick up Zoho next. That is, if they really want to dominate own this space and be a credible threat to Google Docs. - Techcrunch

I hope that they can find something to do in the social networking space next.  Their internal efforts have been lackluster at best, but there is a lot of potential if they find the right strategy there.

Zimbra, named after a nonsensical Talking Heads song, made its debut at the 2005 Web 2.0 conference, leaving TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington saying: “Zimbra is so damn cool and full of Ajax awesomeness…” -from Yahoo official blog

Here is the Yahoo press release and Zimbra CEO Satish Dharmaraj’s blog post on the acquisition. And here’s the Yahoo official blog post.

Windows Users Caused Skype Outage

August 21st, 2007 | No Comments | Posted in Digital home, Microsoft, Skype, VOIP, Voice Over IP (VOIP) by admin

Skype has finally explained the reasons behind the 36+ hour outage of their popular P2P VOIP service last week: Windows Users. According to Skype the outage was caused by “a massive restart of our user’s computers across the globe within a very short timeframe as they re-booted after receiving a routine software update” which The Register points out was Microsoft’s monthly patch Tuesday. Patch Tuesday is the time of the month Windows users receive security updates that often result in widespread reboots by Thursday. More from TechCrunch…

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Email from Skype.com

Hello

You may or may not know but last week Skype wasn’t available for a
couple of days. There were a number of reasons for this and I am
delighted to say that the problem is now well and truly sorted and
everything is back to normal. For those of you who tried to use Skype
during that time but couldn’t, we’re very sorry. For those of you who
didn’t try to use Skype - well thankfully you were not affected but we
want to reassure everyone that Skype is now working happily and the
problem is fixed.

We know we have many faithful users out there who give us feedback
(good and bad) on what we’re doing as a company. The Skype community
makes us what we are. Without you, our users, we simply wouldn’t
exist. We’ve helped people stay in touch with their friends and
family over the past four years without any massive hitch and we want
it to stay that way.

When the unexpected happens, it’s important to remember the people who
stuck behind us and whose loyalty humbled us. I want to thank
everyone for their support, patience and being part of the Skype
community. And for those of you who missed out on using Skype last
week - I want to especially thank you as well.

As a goodwill gesture to all you faithful Skype Pro, Skype Unlimited,
SkypeIn or Skype Voicemail customers, we’re adding an additional seven
days to your current subscription, free of charge. And even if you
didn’t miss out on using Skype last week - you can still have a week
free on Skype, on the house!

So please enjoy it, call your loved ones, friends, family and
colleagues and thanks again.

Talk soon,
The people at Skype

What is ‘Vonage Text’ Service?

April 26th, 2007 | No Comments | Posted in Creative innovation, Phone, Tech/Biz News, VOIP by admin

This is a new service from Vonage. On top od lots of other add on service they added new service called Vonage TEXT. It is a subscription based service. Here is some bullet points they listed on vonage.com website:

  • Save time - Read your voicemail
  • Search your voicemail messages
  • Convenient - No need to write down important messages. It’s already done for you.

“Being able to read voicemails while on the go has been a huge advantage for me, and I’m confident our customers will appreciate the newest innovative, time-saving feature to be offered by Vonage,” said Jeffrey Citron, Chairman, Chief Strategist and Interim CEO of Vonage. “I don’t have to write down important messages — it’s already been done — and I don’t have to strain to hear messages in crowded places like restaurants or airports.”

Vonage offer to their consumers the convenience of reading their voicemails anywhere, anytime they want, through Vonage Text, a service which automatically transcribes voicemails to text so customers can read them right from their e-mail.

The image “http://img.epinions.com/images/opti/35/a7/Vonage_Online_Service-resized200.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

I am not sure how accurate this would be as voice - to - text technology is still not in mature stage. I would love to hear some experience from you, if you happen to be a subscriber of this service. At the bottom of Press release, fine print is: “Vonage Text is brought to you by Vonage and Powered by SimulScribe.”

Via [blogs.zdnet.com] and [simulscribe]

Tag: VOIP Vonage