Although computerized telephone systems have gotten much better at recognizing what we say, they still have to ask way too many questions.
You know the drill: endless menus, enter every piece of personal information. Contrast that with the Internet, where entering an account number or frequent-flier number brings up a ton of personalized information. Well, phone systems are on the brink of adding the same capabilities.
Skype and Logitech have partnered, hoping to do for video calling what Loggins and Messina did for yacht rock. The beautiful music the two companies hope to create with their union is high-quality video calling, with promises of VGA (640x480) resolution and a smooth 30 frames per second. To get the goods, you'll need one of three Logitech cameras: the QuickCam Pro 9000, the QuickCam Pro for Notebooks, or the QuickCam Orbit AF and the latest version of Logitech's Webcam software, QuickCam 11.5. You'll also need the latest Skype client, version 3.6, along with a … Read more
Talkster has been getting some buzz from fellow CTIA-goers. The new international dialing service is offering free global calls in exchange to listening to a few ads. The VoIP-based, phone-centered service feels like the perfect Skype (download) and Pincity mashup. It's free like Skype, and also relies on a VoIP backbone, but like Pincity, Talkster makes use of local numbers to initiate mobile and landline calls.
It sure sounds irresistible, and I've read a few glowing reviews, but in actuality it's a bit tricky. Talkster members enter their number and the number they're calling, and Talkster assigns a new, local number for callers on each end of the line. Say what?
If I want to call my sister in England, I enter both our phone numbers and receive a third number in my 415 area code. That's my permanent number for the phone number I just entered. My sister will get a number for me too. If I want to catch her at home, work, and on her cell phone for free, I'll need to enter each phone number and get three separate Talkster lines.
It wouldn't be so confusing if that were all, but of course it's not. Initiating a call isn't merely the result of dialing one of my Talkster-issued local numbers. There's an order to the calling system. Let's say I initiate the call to my darling sib using a Talkster phone number. I dial the appointed number in my area code and she picks up. But we can't talk yet. She first has to hang up while I stay on the line. My sister then quickly locates her local number, and while Talkster servers do some speedy math to connect our loose ends together, we both listen to an ad. Or that's the plan as soon as Talkster's ad deals are in place.… Read more
NoiseFree VoIP has just launched a fresh all-software solution to those often noisy VoIP calls. Skype, Yahoo Messenger with Voice, and Google Talk are great ways to save money on long distance, but if you're calling anywhere near civilization, you're bound to get interference. A noisy line can undo the advantage of free Internet calls.
Until December 31, 2007, NoiseFree VoIP is offering a free beta of its noise-canceling software to registered users. I gave it a go at CTIA (coverage), and was impressed with the demo. There was noticeable improvement in call quality when I toggled the … Read more
Some of us at Crave are really looking forward to next year's Beijing Olympics--not because we're huge fans of the pommel horse, but because we're so tired of Samsung trying to figure out what phones it wants to dedicate to the event.
First the company announced its plans this summer for not one but three commemorative handsets, setting the stage for inevitable confusion. Then it sprang a gold version on us. Now, according to Ubergizmo, the company has issued yet another set of photos for the 18k Gold Edition of its AnyCall E848 handset. The quad-band GSM … Read more
While GrandCentral may have been stealing headlines lately, there's another suffix-sharing phone call management service called RingCentral that can make small businesses look and function like larger ones with some pretty neat telephonic tomfoolery. The service has been around since early 2004, and today is introducing a slew of VoIP plans called DigitalLine that give users the option to use VoIP instead of, or on top of their existing landlines.
So what can you do with RingCentral? Small business owners will love it, since you can set up a ridiculously extensive set of rules to handle incoming calls, or reroute them on the fly with a virtual phone call manager called SoftPhone. The idea is to take a single or multiline setup and spread it out intelligently, while putting all the options online for you to manage and tweak while away from your office.
Like GrandCentral, you can set up calls to be routed to different phones or line extensions, there are also handy business-centric settings to tweak the response people get when they call at off-business hours. For fans of GrandCentral's multiphone ring system, RingCentral has also gone the extra step of letting you add three-digit passwords to an incoming phone call to keep unintended pickups from happening. This feature actually stemmed out of users wanting to keep their children from answering a business phone call when they had forgotten to turn off the home forwarding options off, or couldn't get to their own phone in time.
The new VoIP implementation is fairly straightforward. All incoming calls can be set to be received via VoIP, letting you receive and manage phone calls while away from your landline. You can also get various minute packages to use VoIP to make outgoing calls, including an all-you-can-eat plan of outgoing VoIP for around $25/month. In contrast to consumer VoIP services like Vonage, Skype, or Comcast's DigitalVoice, RingCentral isn't aiming at cheap outgoing long distance providers, as much as the multi-line business crowd who's looking for a way to handle several lines without the hardware or staffing.
For a shot of the call log interface, click the read more link below.
FastCall411: Now this is clever. If you're looking for a service provider, you tell FastCall what you're looking for (for example, a plumber), and then it dials up to ten plumbers at once on your behalf. The first provider to respond is the one you're connected to. FastCall also builds profiles of providers based on how responsive they are.
If you've ever dialed around for someone to handle a service need for you, you'll appreciate this for sure.
From DemoFall 2007.
This is either creepy or annoying.
Pudding Media, a San Jose, California, start-up launching at DemoFall 2007 on Monday, is offering free Web-based phone calls, if you let them monitor phone calls and show you onscreen advertisements based on the topic of your conversation.
To use the service, users go to ThePudding.com and enter the phone number to call. The call quality is fine, and my call was connected right away, but what about the idea of the company monitoring your private conversations? Plus, most people are looking for ways to avoid ads these days (pop-up blockers, TiVo) but … Read more
It's hard to believe that 10 years ago a cell phone was still a novelty. Now it's nearly impossible to imagine life without mobile communication.
As new modes of communication open up, will others go by the wayside? There may be a generational divide opening here, as younger adults in particular start asking themselves what good is a landline anyway? About a quarter of adults age 18 to 29 rely on a mobile phone as their only telephone service.
I am tempted to dump my landline, not because I have an amazing relationship with my mobile phone, but because telemarketers have turned my ringing landline into an incredible nuisance. An admittedly unscientific study of my caller ID log reveals that I've been getting four junk calls for every call I actually want to receive.… Read more