Bug? Feature? Yes.

So – I’ve signed up for a SkypeOut subscription and a SkypeIn number in a long and almost funny story about overhead, organization telecommunications, and just the mere fact that I rarely use that ringy thing on the desk. (Although, honestly, I have had a lot of interactions recently that just could not be done within IM and email, which is somewhat rare for the participants involved).

Oh, yeah, and the fact that I had to try it all out, you know, like “for science”

I’m not sold on skype, but they seem to be the only ones with effective bridges in and out to the telephone network. (Dear Google, give me a telephone system bridge with Google Voice and some kind of VOIP that can talk to my microphone and speakers – like audio GChat, and I’ll so totally pay for Google Voice, certainly some significant percentage of what I pay the monopoly bell provider).

So, anyway, long stories to be told later. Today I gave the Skype line a good test for the first time. Having a co-worker call me – through my Google Voice number – which was set up to ring the home phone, skype phone, and cell phone) and answering with the skype phone.

It performed adequately, I wasn’t talking with a headset, and instead was talking at my computer screen in that kind of “raised, commanding voice” that one uses with speakerphones.

My co-worker was using Vonage. So it was Vonage over Time Warner to Google Voice to Skype over Time Warner – which strikes me as funny, like “The House that Jack’s Mouse that Ate the Clock that Struck 12” funny.

But the best part was when the co-worker’s child’s elementary school robo-called him on his vonage number, which is set to roll over to his cell phone (like how many technologies should we have had here? maybe I should have been using Skype on the iPhone) – when he got that call on the Vonage line – Google Voice suddenly spontaneously started recording our call. (You can press 4 during the call on Google Voice to start recording but as far as I know, my focus was not on the Skype client and keypad, and not even that weird Macintosh click-through focus) – plus it was waaaaay too closely tied with the reception of that vonage call.

I hadn’t the foggiest where that call recording announcement came from until I looked at the Google Voice inbox.

Spontaneous call recording with call rollover notifications over VOIP? Bug? Feature? We report, you decide.

p.s. And remind me not to use the computer as a speakerphone, talk about a direct, blunt, almost angry sounding voice I had going on there, I so need to start recording myself more (which my family has been telling me for years) – my voice so totally does not sound that direct/blunt/forceful in my head. Whoa nelly. I’m sure it’s the mp3 encoding – yeah, that was it 🙂

p.p.s. No, you will not be hearing a copy of the recording.

p.p.p.s Though it was pretty funny when my co-worker said “it’s because my head doesn’t dampen sound enough” But, nope, still not uploading the recording. Though I might snippet me saying “That… was… FAIL!” in a total southern accent “Faaaayyyyallle”

Giving more of my life over to The Google

Not longer after Google bought Grand Central, I signed up before it was closed and I had a Grand Central number – which I used as my published work number (and am starting to use elsewhere) I signed up with the motivation that I needed email-notifications of voicemails – which NC State – at least NC State analog voice – doesn’t have.

In my current job, because of the IM, Email and other connectivity – and the nature of our work team interaction – I don’t have a lot of phone conversations with my immediate colleagues, I’m not very phone oriented to begin with – and most of the calls I received at work were cold-call vendor calls – and then sometimes cold-call support calls – which created enough interrupt problems that it all started me having the cold-calls go straight to voicemail. All of which was problematic because those were infrequent enough that I’d never check voicemail – and it all got worse as I started telecommuting more.

I hate voicemail, it has to be the most incredibly inefficient mechanism for notification ever. So at least getting email notifications improved at least the blind queuing problem – but voicemail is still incredibly bad.

That’s why I was a bit excited about the Grand Central to the Google Voice transition. And they didn’t disappoint.

Here’s what Google Santa brought me with Google Voice (and yes, I know some of you with asterisk or other actually modern voice services/company pbx systems have had this, but I haven’t with any of my services, other than AT&T’s visual voicemail on the iPhone):

MP3 Recording I can click on the link in the email notification and play the voice mail on my iPhone – I can send the mp3 to somebody else easily. I can keep them in an archive if I need to – it’s not tied up some bell-system computer somewhere, it’s not a proprietary format. I no longer have to hold up a computer microphone to the headset to try to get a recording, or figure out the arcane forwarding commands of somebody’s phone mail system.

SMS/Email Notifications that work – holy heck, I can get an email and a SMS when I have voicemail. The SMS was a bit hit-or-miss with Grand Central – but I’ll cut them some slack, they were pretty busy with this transition I imagine.

Transcription WOW. This actually works. I realize this technology has been out there in various places for a while. At least the voice mail hell systems I’ve been caught within know when I start cursing at vendors that stick me in them. But I get this – with my voicemail – and sent in the email and SMS notifications. It’s great – and it’s going to be a laugh riot for a while – case in point:

My Test Voicemail

Here’s the transcript:

hey i’m just trying out my very own blue foley service hopefully you ohh transcribe this email and then i will call soon send me an S M S notification to her anyway have a great day and maybe i can my dog to talk i’m not sure training can you tell anyway bye

To be totally fair – they do indicate the words they have issues with:


Hi-laree-us. I almost want phone calls again.