Jul 032009

07.3.09 by jewels
3 flippin years! That’s how long I’ve been waiting since first requesting an invite to Grand Central! So I’m as excited as the rest of you to finally have Google Voice living in my pc. I immediately set it up and….issues! Grrrr…..

Mainly, I wanted Google Voice to be able to take control of my home phone. I have a very basic landline setup. When I moved here I figured I wouldn’t need long distance since I have a large number of minutes on my cell. All my friends from home will call my cell since we’re all Verizon in calls, and I’ll just use my cell for any other LD calls I need to make-right? Wrong! VZW service stinks at my house. Walk 50 feet away and it’s full bars, try to make calls from my home and more often than not they drop into never never land. So I was yearning for Google Voice to have LD calling from home and to be able to utilize all the awesome voicemail/sms/call blocking features.

First issue up…..I hated having all my phones ringing with every call that came in. I have more than one cell phone, so the missed call notifications, text messages, and emails to delete on more than one phone were a PIA.

Second issue….getting my home phone calls to go through google voice. I don’t really use my home phone much. Basically my mother, my job, and very few others even have the number. Yet despite this seemingly simple fact, that damn phone rings constantly! The do not call list doesn’t apply to charitable organizations-and in this economy, they must be hurting really bad considering how often they call me. In addition, do not call does not apply to companies you do business with. So….vendors hired by my telco call constantly trying to sell stuff, as do hosting companies and domain sellers..blah, blah, you get the picture. And until google voice, I was limited to just not answering the phone. I never even set up my voicemail on the home phone so they wouldn’t be able to spam my voicemail. After 2 years my telco decided to activate it anyway so I now have voicemail spam that I don’t want or need….gee thanks! So I ordered call forwarding, and set my home number to forward to the google voice number. Issue 2.5…now I’m stuck in a loop and can’t answer my home phone…

Third issue…youmail. Since my calls were going out to all my phones, youmail was picking up the call before it could get to google voice. So I was essentially loosing the google voice features, plus additionally getting spam voicemails for my home number through the youmail app on my cell. This I did not want! As I said earlier, I really wanted google voice to customize my home phone much in the way that youmail allows me to customize my cells. I love youmail, and I’m not ready to give it up yet. Now I had to deal with getting this all fixed….

First up…into the advanced settings for my cells phones and preventing google voice from forwarding my home phone spam to my cell numbers:

google voice phone options

Next to go: call presentation

google voice call presentation

While the listen in feature is a cool thing, and I probably would utilize it if I was using it with my cell, it just was not serving my purpose. My purpose is to stop the spam via call blocking. With call presentation on, the caller receives a “welcome to google voice” message and is asked for their name to present to me once it rings through to my phone. From there I can choose to accept the call or send it to voicemail. I don’t want either option really since I’m going to be blocking the call. So it’s a bit of a giveaway for the spammers to be greeted by google voice and then be met with a “not in service” message. I’m thinking they’re not gonna take me off their call lists with that tactic. However, with call presentation off they’ll be sent straight to the “not in service” message, and hopefully-will get the message.

Now, what about all those PIA numbers sitting on my caller id? I couldn’t see any way to start adding in numbers to block before they get a chance to call me again, and was ruffled that I would have to wait for them to annoy me some more before I could block them. Luckily I discovered that you can add them in as contacts, and then just block them.

On to the biggest issue-the loop my phone is stuck in and not being able to answer it when someone calls that I actually want to talk to. Enter Gizmo5 which is a phone option in google voice. Gizmo5 has this handy little feature that lets you forward your gizmo number to google talk. My pc is always on, and gmail is always open, so this is a perfect solution for me and requires no additional software to utilize. Once I signed up I set up forwarding like so:

google voice gizmo5

When adding the Gizmo number to google voice and making the confirmation call, just enter the confirmation number into the chat box that pops up using the pc keyboard.

Now incoming calls to the google voice number or the home number show up in gchat with caller ID information.

google voice gizmo5 gchat googletalk

When I want to make outgoing calls from my home phone I have two options. I can call my google voice number from my landline and use the phone prompts if I want my call to appear from the gv number, or if I want to call long distance from home. Or I can make the call from gv website and route it through the gizmo5 number.

google voice gizmo5 gchat googletalk

Which then calls me on gchat.

google voice gizmo5 gchat googletalk

Once I hit answer it then dials out to the number I called and connects me.

google voice gizmo5 gchat googletalk

So, I now have a working home phone solution while still having my landline number forwarded to google voice to ward off the spam. Two words of caution if you seek a similar solution. One – gchat doesn’t ring if your pc is idle, so you will have to adjust your settings. However, it does still pop up the message with the caller ID, so if you are on and off the pc regularly you will see the missed call box with the caller ID information. Two – it doesn’t work in invisible mode. The initial call will come through in gchat, but the button box immediately disappears so you can’t answer it. Surprisingly though, it continues to ring through to the number you called, but the answerer receives a message saying the caller is unavailable. Weird…

So, are you using google voice? And if so, what solutions are you using to meet your needs? I’m especially interested to hear what mobile apps you’re using that implement the sms functionality. I haven’t found any apps for blackberry yet that utilize the built in sms feature, and boy would I love to ditch my text messaging plan!

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