Tagged With telephony

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Like many business people, I've not bothered installing a landline phone. Aside from the cost, it's a pain to have phones tied to specific locations and mobile phones do the job nicely. But, although today's smartphones all boast a hands free mode, the speaker and microphone quality isn't always up to par - particularly where you have a couple of people on the line. The Jabra Speak 710 aims to fix that but putting together a high quality speaker and microphone package that looks good, is easy to use and sounds great.

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iPhone only: As its name suggests, free iPhone application Voice Dialer adds voice dialing to your iPhone. More accurately, though, Voice Dialer is a contact search-by-voice app that also does autodialing. The difference: You can easily autodial any contact by saying "Call John Smith at home"—and Voice Dialer is great at recognising matches—but if you don't say "Call" before the contact's name, Voice Dialer will simply pull up matches. From there, you can also check out a contact's full contact card to quickly compose an email, send a text message, or launch Google Maps at your contact's address (the video demo illustrates these features nicely).

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If you've ever wanted more control over incoming phone calls at home or at the office, setting up a PBX system could be the solution, and Geek.com's John Rogers has a tutorial for you. He explains what a PBX is: A PBX or "Private Branch Exchange" is like a miniature phone company/switch in your own office/house. The PBX is responsible for making sure calls are routed properly. Situation: when Joe wants to dial Suzy in the office down the hall or downstairs in the TV room, he just picks up the phone in his room/office and dials a local extension just a few digits long. Also, if Joe has four teenaged kids, instead of answering their calls and acting as the house receptionist, he can just set up a menu that allows callers to dial the person they want and then needs not be disturbed.

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Schedule phone calls to any phone with web site getmooh (get me out of here). The idea behind this webapp, as the name suggests, is that you can schedule a call to give yourself an excuse to get out of an awkward situation or mind-numbing meeting. You can choose from one of dozens of pre-recorded messages to play when you answer, from an angry Alec Baldwin to an absurd but probably effective instructional message that feeds you your excuse line by line. ("Repeat after me: 'Hey, how's it going? Oh no, where are you now? I'm sorry, I've got to go. My flatmate has lost his keys.'") Don't plan on using the site for pranks, though—it reads your number back at the end of each message it sends. For more phone call scheduling fun, check out previously mentioned Popularity Dialer or SorryGottaGo. Get Me Out of Here

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US-centric: Misplaced your cell phone around the house and don't have another phone on hand to call it up to locate it? Give your number to web site PhoneMyPhone and they'll instantly ring you up. Aside from instant calling to locate your phone, PhoneMyPhone will also schedule phone calls at specific times, similar to previously mentioned Popularity Dialer, to get you out of that boring meeting or awful date if you need it. As for sounding off the ring when you misplace your phone—it may not get a pizza to your door like Google Maps used to, but the easy-to-remember PhoneMyPhone should ensure a quick recovery from the recesses of your couch cushions. Thanks David! PhoneMyPhone

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If you liked the idea of making VoIP calls on your iPod touch or iPhone, but all you've got in your go-bag is a Sony PSP, DIY web site Instructables steps through how to run the popular VoIP application Skype on your PSP. This PSP hack feature isn't new by any means, but the Instructable is detailed and easy to follow along with. We don't have a PSP to test this at Lifehacker HQ, so if you've setup Skype calling on your PSP, share your experience in the comments. How to use Skype to make PSP as PSP phone

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The iPhone and iPod touch are almost indistinguishable devices except for one major difference—you can make calls from your iPhone, and you can't from your iPod touch. For the privilege of making phone calls with your iPhone, you have to pay $100 more upfront to Apple for the device itself, plus a minimum of $60/month to AT&T for the next two years (and that's only if you're in the US - AU editor) Let's say you didn't need that kind of firepower from your iPod touch, but that you would like to use it make a phone call every now and then. You can, and today I'm going to show you how to make VoIP phone calls from your iPod touch or iPhone using a freeware application called SIP-VoIP.

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Windows only: Freeware plug-in Call Graph integrates with the popular VoIP application Skype to record your Skype as MP3s and organize those recordings with a simple interface. Once installed, you can set Call Graph to automatically record all of your Skype calls, or you can choose to start and stop recording manually during a call. After you record a call, you can rename and add relevant information to the call data—which comes in handy when you use Call Graph to search your index of recorded calls. There are many Skype recording tools out there, but most come with a price or limitations. The freeware, Windows-only Call Graph has no limitations, and while its current interface is spare, it's simple to use and does the job. Call Graph

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Mac OS X only: The latest beta 3 release of Yahoo Messenger for Mac adds voice and voicemail capabilities a la Skype. Using Yahoo Messenger, computer to computer voice calls are free, and you can purchase a PhoneOut and/or PhoneIn account to call land line or cell phones, or receive calls on your computer, or even set up call forwarding to land lines or mobile phones. (Rates start at 1 cent/minute in the U.S.) You can also send SMS messages with Yahoo Messenger, and get free voicemail; Yahoo Messenger delivers voicemail as an email attachment to the address you specify. Skype's had all these features for Mac and PC for some time now, so Yahoo's pretty late to the game—but it's still good to have options. Mac Version - Yahoo! Messenger

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Internode has become the latest ISP to offer 'naked DSL'  - and they've promised another new service later this year which will let you have a conventional phone, but without paying a separate line rental charge. PC Authority wrote up the announcement here. Internode boss Simon Hackett is quoted as saying the line-rental free service, called Internode Ultra, won't have upload fees, unlike the similar package offered by Optus Fusion.

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US-centric: If you've been dying to try out the one-number-to-rule-them-all phone service GrandCentral, but have been stymied by their move to a closed, invite-only beta following Google's acquisition of the service, you'll be glad to know that GrandCentral has opened up to users of Google's Blogger. If you're still undecided about whether or not GrandCentral is for you, check out our extensive review and gallery of GrandCentral. If you've been a user of GrandCentral since we first posted about it, let's hear how you're liking it in the comments. Thanks Jason! GrandCentral Signup through Blogger Invite

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US-centric: Tired of getting phone calls from the same 800-type phone number, but have no idea who's calling? 800Notes, a free user-submitted reverse phone directory, lets you see who might be ringing, whether it's a sales firm, debt collection agency, or other cloaked caller. Whether or not you find a match depends on if anybody else has reported the identity of the caller, but many of the matches have useful information, like a caller's experience in trying to get the other end to stop calling. For those who've recently changed numbers or seem to attract false debt collection calls, it's definitely worth a bookmark for when Google searching fails. 800Notes

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Reader Dr. Jonas Venture, Jr. loves a good speed dial, but like most of us doesn't remember any of his speed dial numbers beyond 9. So to extend the usefulness of his phone's speed dial functionality, he simply repeats the speed dial number for different numbers belonging to the same contact, or adds a second number based on relationships to the first. For example: So 2 would be my fiancee's cell, 22 would be her home. My brother would be 3, his work would be 33. When I kept dialing my future father-in-law to make plans for a trip, I found it annoying to keep searching for him. So voilà, he became 23, and my fiancée's mom's cell eventually became 24.Very clever! The whole idea is very reminiscent of how I build keyword bookmarks in Firefox, and like keyword bookmarks, a good speed dial framework will almost always be quicker than digging through your contacts.

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What happens when you take a grown man's Blackberry, cell phone, and computer away? He breaks down into tears, that's what. The Today show unplugged a Forbes magazine editor (who volunteered for the experiment!) and madness ensued. This clip is over a year old, but it's a must-see if you've been considering unplugging on a regular basis. Could you make it a week sans email and cell phone? Let us know in the comments.

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One of the best things about KDE 4, the newest release of the mainstream Linux desktop manager, is something it doesn't do—force you to adapt to its way of running a computer desktop. Sure, the desktop environment boasts new 3-D effects, a polished theme, and improved functionality. But what KDE 4 does best is give users the ability to almost completely re-design their desktops, putting their programs, icons, and useful widgets wherever they see fit, on as many desktops as they want, to create their ideal workspace. I spent some time exploring the features of the less-than-week-old system, the results of which are after the jump.

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When getting things done involves making phone calls, you want to spend the least amount of time and money on the horn as possible—and several tricks and services can help you do just that. With the right tones, keypresses, phone numbers, and know-how, you can skip through or cut off long-winded automated voice systems and humans, access web services by voice, and smartly screen incoming calls. Check out our pick of the 10 best telephony techniques for getting more done in less time over the phone.

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Previously mentioned file sharing site Drop.io has added a neat feature: the ability to record and share MP3 audio from your phone. Create a new voice "drop" and get a phone number and extension. Call it, and start talking or recording a lecture, podcast, or interview, and when you hang up, the recording's available as an MP3 download for sharing at a custom drop.io URL. Store up to 100MB "drops" (that's shared files and/or MP3's) for free or upgrade for 1GB of storage for 10 bucks. Update: This post giving you déjà vu? Our apologies for the duplicate.
Drop.io Voice