Using Google Voice as vacation receptionist

Google Voice
I signed up for GrandCentral about two years ago, long before the days of Google Voice. I haven’t had much use for it outside of being another number to give when I sign up for services (credit cards, what have you). Once Google bought it out and converted it to Google Voice a whole new world opened up for phone users. (If you aren’t familiar with Google Voice – Pogue sums it up best, as always!) Not only does Google Voice take messages for you, it transcribes them and sends them to you by e-mail or text message! You can also send text messages from Google Voice for free! Both of these things will become quite handy as I leave for Spain tonight.

My plan – forward all incoming calls directly to my Google Voice number.

There are a few reasons I’m doing this. First of all, I’d like to see who calls and get my messages while I’m away. Secondly, it helps me avoid the $1.99 fee for not accepting an incoming call. Yes, you read that right. If your phone is set up for international roaming, even if you don’t accept the call, you will be charged for one minute of use to send the call to your voice-mail back in the states. Keep in mind that the amount changes with the country you are in! In Ecuador it is $5.99!!

In order for this to work, I have to uncheck all phones that Google Voice forwards to (under Settings -> Phones). I then have to enable Do Not Disturb (under Settings -> General). Lastly I have to forward all incoming calls on my cell phone to my Google Voice number. Unfortunately setting vary widely per phone and provider as how that is set up. Usually its under Settings -> Call Settings -> Call Forwarding on your phone. You want to forward “all voice calls” (or “always forward”) to your Google Voice number. Don’t forget to unforward them when you get back! Now you will get all your messages via e-mail at your convenience! You can even see what calls you missed if no voice-mails were left by logging in to your Google Voice account. While you are logged in, go ahead and exchange some text messages with your friends – its free!

Google Transit Chicago

Google Transit Chicago

Google Maps and Chicago Transit Authority have finally teamed up!! I’ve been waiting for this for years! All you have to do is put in your starting point and destination and get directions – then select if you are driving or taking public transit! It is super easy and you can combine it with the use of Google Streetview to actually see the area you are going to! Now if they could integrate it with Google Maps for Mobile – that would be fantastic!

Google Zeitgeist 2007

Its that time of year again! Google releases its Zeitgeist.

Zeitgeist describes the intellectual and cultural climate of an era. In German, the word has more layers of meaning than the English translation, including the fact that Zeitgeist can only be observed for past events.

See how the iPhone fares vs. Don Imus, if more people ask “what is love” or “what is bluetooth”, and if more people want to know how to flirt than how to dance! Always a fascinating perspective on the past year’s events!