Tag Archive: Phones

Free Calling, as in No Monthly Fees

In a previous post I talked about my quest to find a good and configurable home office phone system. The first option I want to discuss is a simple and inexpensive solution that will likely work for the large majority of homes and home offices.

This solution is Google Voice and a small device named the OBi. Google Voice is a service provided by Google that bridges POTS lines (Plain Old Telephone Service) and the world of VoIP (Voice over IP.) The best thing is that Google Voice does this for free if calling within the United States or Canada…and very cheaply if calling internationally. The problem is that Google Voice wants to connect your call to either a computer or another POTS line.

This is where the OBi comes into play. The OBi accepts VoIP connections from Google and translates that into something your traditional phone will understand…all without needing a POTS line from your telephone or cable provider. There are several models.  The two most popular are the OBi 100 and the OBi 202.   The primary difference is that the OBi 100 can handle two VoIP services and one telephone while the OBi 202 can handle four VoIP services and two telephones.  This means you could have up to four separate Google Voice numbers and multiple telephones or cordless telephones connected to the OBi.  One for different members of your family or separate personal and business phone numbers.

If I’m losing you, just listen to this.  After spending $40 for the OBi 100, you won’t have any monthly fees for domestic calling unless Google decides to start charging for this service sometime in the future.  Industry analysts do not think this will happen anytime soon. View full article »

Recently I began looking for alternatives to traditional phone service for my home and office.  I reviewed what was available from my cable provider, Cox Communications, but they were expensive.  I had used Google Voice in the past but wanted more flexibility.  I decided to give 8×8 a try for about three months.  They are a true VOIP provider and essentially offer a PBX in the cloud.  They have extremely reliable service and a wide assortment of features but ultimately I wanted more flexibility and thee ability to create additional extensions without a monthly fee and taxes being associated with each one.

I then stumbled onto Incredible PBX.  This offering takes open source tools like Asterisk and FreePBX and packages them so they can run on a $35 Raspberry Pi.  Amazing!  I have been running this now for three weeks and have had no issues.  I can create extensions, voice mail boxes, announcements…even a voice response unit (choose 1 to leave a voice mail, choose 2 to hear the weather, etc.) View full article »

Have you ever felt your iPhone vibrate but had to dig it out of your pocket to see whether it was vibrating due to a phone call, a text or an email?  Did you know that you can change the pattern of your iPhone’s vibrate function?

From your home screen:

  • Select Settings
  • Select Sounds
  • Select the type of event (i.e. Ringtone, Text Tone, New Voicemail, etc.)
  • Select Vibrate
  • Now choose the pattern that you like the best for that event

In order to sample the vibrate tones as you select each one, ensure your phone is in vibrate mode.

You can pick from several standard patterns, you can create your own or you can choose to not have the device vibrate.  By selecting very different vibrate pattens, you can now better identify what kind of event is being received by your iPhone.  Please note, this only applies to the iPhone and not the iPad at the time this article was written.

Tired of receiving unwanted calls at home or on your mobile phone? So was I…
Free service from the FTC.


About a week ago I started receiving 5 to 10 calls a day to my mobile phone. They were asking for random people, were calling from different numbers but all had the same hold music when I first answered the phone. Out of curiosity, I spoke to one of them for a bit. They wanted to confirm all of my personal information, including my social security number, before “taking me off their list.” Needless to say, this had all the characteristics of a phishing attack and I gave them no information.

View full article »

I noticed several months ago that when using my iPhone and iPad that the default search engine in Safari had changed from Google to Yahoo.  I gave Yahoo a shot but eventually decided that I wanted to move back to Google.  From iOS you have the option of Google, Yahoo or Bing.  If you want to modify the default search engine for an iOS device, such as, an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch it is very easy.

From your home screen:

  • Select Settings
  • Select Safari
  • Select Search Engine
  • Now choose from Google, Yahoo or Bing

One you have picked your favorite engine then return to Safari and give it a try.