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  1.    #1  
    Here is a NYT article that I found very interesting:

    "No longer will anyone have to track you down by dialing each of your numbers in turn. No longer does it matter if you’re home, at work or on the road. Your new GrandCentral phone number will find you.

    As a bonus, all messages now land in a single voice mail box. You can listen to them in any of three ways. First, you can dial in from any phone (a text message arrives on your cellphone to let you know when you have voice mail). If you call in from your cellphone, you don’t even have to enter your password first.

    You can also play your messages on the Web, at GrandCentral.com, and download them as audio files to preserve for posterity. You can even ask to be notified by e-mail; a link in the e-mail message takes you online to play the voice mail...


    ...
    Your phone rings and displays the usual Caller ID information. You answer it. But before you can even say “Hello,” GrandCentral’s recording lady tells you the caller’s name, and then offers four ways to handle the call: “Press 1 to accept, 2 to send to voice mail, 3 to listen in on voice mail, or 4 to accept and record the call.” Your callers have no clue that all this is going on; they hear only the usual ringing sound. For what may be the first time in cellphone history, you can listen to a message someone is leaving, just as you can on a home answering machine.

    Your phone rings and displays the usual Caller ID information. You answer it. But before you can even say “Hello,” GrandCentral’s recording lady tells you the caller’s name, and then offers four ways to handle the call: “Press 1 to accept, 2 to send to voice mail, 3 to listen in on voice mail, or 4 to accept and record the call.” Your callers have no clue that all this is going on; they hear only the usual ringing sound."


    Complete story
    Last edited by copernicus; 03/18/2007 at 04:53 PM.
  2. #2  
    Cool thing, thanks for the heads-up. I like David Pogue and I read him often.
    A few things about GrandCentral. First, at $15 a month (for more than 2 phone numbers) is too much in my view. Plus, the company doesn't have local phone numbers in all area codes to choose from, "so your next-door neighbor may wind up having to dial an out-of-town number to reach you..."
    Personally I like You Mail a lot better (it's free too), although it doesn't really function as one-number-solves-it-all. It can block calls. You can customize greetings for each caller. All calls are recorded on the site. And more.
  3.    #3  
    Pogue seems to be getting better (in a tough business). The basic service is free on GrandCentral but it only covers two phones. That could be enough for many individuals and may attract a lot of users. Time will tell of course, but, *if* it works as promised, it may turn into quite a big deal. Anyway, I registered for the free account and received my phone number (got a nice one ) and an email (probably a welcome message, but I'm in too noisy an environment to hear it at the moment) arrived notifying me of voicemail with click and play icon.

    Thanks for mentioning You Mail, I'm not that familiar with these services but it seems I've heard it mentioned before on the forum.
  4. #4  
    This is similar to a service from about 5 years ago called Simulring. I am not sure if Vonage bought them, but Vonage offers the same thing and they let you make calls over their system. So for $15/month, you get a local number (they have tons), a VOiP adapter so you can make 500 anywhere calls, and you can set it up that if people call your number, it can ring simultaneously or consecutively up to 4 other numbers. Many voice mail retrieval options too.
    3 Sharp Wizards (who can remember the model #'s anymore?) -> REX -> PalmPilot -> PalmPilot w/1 MB Upgrade -> Palm V -> Palm Vx -> Palm m505 -> Treo 90 -> Treo 600 (Sprint) -> Treo 650 (Sprint) -> Treo 700p (Sprint) -> Treo 755p (Sprint) -> Centro (KB & Batt too small) -> Treo 755p & Black Centro

    Current "essential" programs: Chatter, 2day, TakePhone, SplashID, PalmPDF, 4Cast, DA, GoogleMaps, BackupMan, PowerHero, KeyCaps, LudusP, mSafe, TextPlus, VolumeCare, ePocrates, zLauncher.
  5.    #5  
    Thanks gadgetfreak! For now I want to avoid the $15 per month charge but I am aware that Vonage is very good. I understood from your message that you can make 500 anywhere *calls,* not minutes (wondering if this includes foreign calls, landlines). hmmmm...
  6. #6  
    David Pogue (speaking of which), had a good article on Vonage and how to save money overseas, titled: "Overseas Calls Made Cheap, if Not Easy".
  7. #7  
    I prefer Ring Central for the Ringout feature that you can make calls and the number will appear on callerID whereas with Grandcentral, whatever number you are calling from appears. If anybody wants a referral for Ring Central, PM me and I'll set you up.
    La Vie En Diaspora: Enfin, une émission qui raconte votre vie aux Etats-Unis

    Treo 600 in December '03, Treo 650 in February '05, HTC TyTN Pro in August '06, and back to Treo 750 in January '07, find me at MyTreo.net

    About me: story of the 100thMonkey
  8.    #8  
    Quote Originally Posted by impish View Post
    David Pogue (speaking of which), had a good article on Vonage and how to save money overseas, titled: "Overseas Calls Made Cheap, if Not Easy".
    This was a very good update on Vonage which I haven't been watching much lately, thanks (I'm still a bit confused, there's a lot of detail in that article). It was also interesting to see that Skype Out now only costs $38 *a year* (for unlimited calls to landlines), something which may have changed a year ago but escaped me (still had a small balance there last time I checked). My impression is that one is still tethered to the laptop on Skype unless one has additional equipment.

    FWIW: For international calls I have been using Minowireless.com which allows one to specify the number to call and the number to receive the call (plus being able to make calls on the Treo itself). I like it because there is no software to install (except on the Treo if one intends to use it), no hardware to purchase, and one can use any phone in the house (in a hotel or company, the switchboard operater would have to be notified and connect the call to ones room or extension which makes it a bit impractical in that scenario). The calls can be initiated from *any* computer with a net connection or the Treo and, depending on the country, the charge to most of the developed world is a little less than 2 cents per minute on average. The calls are crystal clear *most* of the time, and other than the very occasional interference, the system is rock solid.


    Quote Originally Posted by 100thMonkey View Post
    I prefer Ring Central for the Ringout feature that you can make calls and the number will appear on callerID whereas with Grandcentral, whatever number you are calling from appears. If anybody wants a referral for Ring Central, PM me and I'll set you up.
    Thanks for the fine points 100thMonkey, I'll look into Ring Central as well as You Mail when I get a chance. We are talking about a lot of different services here, but a single thing can make it worthwhile sometimes.
  9. #9  
    Quote Originally Posted by copernicus View Post
    Thanks for the fine points 100thMonkey
    sure thing, I hope that at least one of the services meets your needs
    La Vie En Diaspora: Enfin, une émission qui raconte votre vie aux Etats-Unis

    Treo 600 in December '03, Treo 650 in February '05, HTC TyTN Pro in August '06, and back to Treo 750 in January '07, find me at MyTreo.net

    About me: story of the 100thMonkey
  10. #10  
    Quote Originally Posted by copernicus View Post
    Thanks gadgetfreak! For now I want to avoid the $15 per month charge but I am aware that Vonage is very good. I understood from your message that you can make 500 anywhere *calls,* not minutes (wondering if this includes foreign calls, landlines). hmmmm...
    Sorry. Misstated. 500 anywhere/anytime MINUTES.
    3 Sharp Wizards (who can remember the model #'s anymore?) -> REX -> PalmPilot -> PalmPilot w/1 MB Upgrade -> Palm V -> Palm Vx -> Palm m505 -> Treo 90 -> Treo 600 (Sprint) -> Treo 650 (Sprint) -> Treo 700p (Sprint) -> Treo 755p (Sprint) -> Centro (KB & Batt too small) -> Treo 755p & Black Centro

    Current "essential" programs: Chatter, 2day, TakePhone, SplashID, PalmPDF, 4Cast, DA, GoogleMaps, BackupMan, PowerHero, KeyCaps, LudusP, mSafe, TextPlus, VolumeCare, ePocrates, zLauncher.
  11.    #11  
    Quote Originally Posted by gadgetfreak View Post
    Sorry. Misstated. 500 anywhere/anytime MINUTES.
  12.    #12  
    Excerpt:
    "...Now, many hackers have worked this kind of behavior out for themselves, perhaps using their asterisk server. (Feel free to post your favorite hacks in the comments!) But this is a mainstream consumer service, and as David wrote in his Times column, "GrandCentral has rewritten the rules in the game of telephone."

    I haven't played with GrandCentral much yet, but it appears to be a textbook Web 2.0 application, building a network-effects business that gets better the more people use it. It's "software above the level of a single device." Like iTunes, it provides an integrated application that involves a handheld device, a PC control station (albeit in this case a flash application in a web browser rather than a standalone app), and a server back-end.

    Perhaps most importantly, if this service takes off, it's almost a perfect "Data is the Intel Inside" play, far greater than any email address-book based attempt like Plaxo. It will be the first service outside the phone companies themselves that could build that next generation Web 2.0 address book I've been writing about. (See also.)

    You can see how cleverly they've architected the service to gather additional information from public sources, and then get their customers to enhance them, in the following feature (as well as in their telemarketer blocking, above):

    Every GrandCentral caller is announced by name when you answer the phone. ("Call from Ethel Murgatroid.")

    How does it know the name? Sometimes Caller ID supplies it. GrandCentral also knows every name in your online address book, which can import your contacts from Yahoo, Gmail or your e-mail program.

    Callers not in these categories are asked to state their names the first time they call. On subsequent calls, GrandCentral recognizes them.

    In short, I expect GrandCentral to become one of the premier Web 2.0 and social networking platforms overnight, and it's squarely aimed at the heart of the communications device used by more people than any PC application will ever touch.

    (Note: I was on the board of the company formerly known as Grand Central, which is connected to this one via its name and its primary investor, Halsey Minor, but I have no connection to the current company.) "

    Complete story
    Last edited by copernicus; 03/20/2007 at 02:33 PM.
  13. #13  
    Some of the comments in your link are interesting (and also concerning/disconcerting):

    Andy Wong:
    Just read Ben Bangert's comment. I think GrandCentral generally targets businessmen/businesswomen with many phone numbers. The greatest concern of all is that, having a centralized virtual phone number in use will make the structure of communication of yours a bit more fragile. For example, if the service of GrandCentral is down for some minutes, my voice channels of communication will fail as well. This prospect won't make people feel easy.
    Unless GrandCentral can come up with some backup soltuions, people will just hesitate.

    Ben Bangert:
    On a side-note, the caller recording thing apparently violates California recording law as it doesn't indicate that the call is being recorded to all parties. Though apparently since this is difficult to enforce, the FCC merely suggests that the consumer beware.

    Tim O'Reilly:
    As to the textbook web 2.0 application, consider this: each phone carrier has a complete call history for each of its customers. They know who you call, and who calls you. They could build interesting applications based on this knowledge, but to date, they haven't shown much imagination.
    In order to deliver their service, GC has now abstracted away from the phone company all this data. And in fact, over time, they should build up a phone directory and call history that is a superset of the knowledge of any of the individual carriers. And unlike the phone carriers, I imagine that they'll be quick to build on that database, which is constantly growing.

    Mark Henderson:
    I've been using this service for a while and love it. The one thing keeping it from being a truly universal number is its inability to receive text messages (SMS). This means I still need to give friends my cell number.
  14.    #14  
    Excerpted from TechCrunch:

    GrandCentral May Have Some Kinks To Work Out

    I was surprised when two of the people who sent out their new GrandCentral number to me and other contacts sent a follow up email a few days later, asking everyone to ignore the phone number and go back to the previous normal cell or other phone. I followed up with both of them to ask why they were abandoning the service.

    One person, who uses his desk and cell phone “constantly” to do business, said that it only worked properly about half the time. When you whitelist phone numbers, they are supposed to ring right through without having to record their name or wait. Even with their caller ID turned off, callers on his white list said they were still being put in the queue. Important clients, who were supposed to bypass the review, were getting pissed off. “I just couldn’t afford the risk” he said. “When I kept hearing the recorded name of my most important client and realize he’s waiting on hold while I stumble for the “1″ button to put him through, I knew I couldn’t keep using it.” he also said that clients were complaining that calls weren’t picked up at all and they were being put through to voicemail. “These guys don’t do voicemail” he said. “They simply call my competitor...

    Story
  15. #15  
    Good story, thanks
    I have decided not to try GrandCentral primarily because I like SMS a lot and need a certain phone for doing it. Besides, I like having a work phone functions for that purpose and not getting "social" calls while working, etc. GrandCentral can be a great idea for folks who might need to combine phones to be more efficient. Maybe. I am not sold on this idea yet.
  16.    #16  
    I'm not sold either. Things need time to mature, but I did register just in case it pans out in the future. I can't say I've used it yet so I cannot offer a review of my own.

    On another note, I noticed that Skype is now allowing users to charge people who call them (the users) for a service of any kind (for about a 30% fee). That one is worth watching as well.
  17. #17  
    Quote Originally Posted by copernicus View Post
    On another note, I noticed that Skype is now allowing users to charge people who call them (the users) for a service of any kind (for about a 30% fee). That one is worth watching as well.
    I'll keep my eyes open...

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