Category Archives: Communication

Moving Stuff: Fun With Phones Part 2

With the up-coming move, the question about what to do with our home phone was resolved by beginning an attempt to port our home Voice Over IP (VoIP) number, in a two-step process, to the Google Voice service. In Part 1 of this process, we successfully ported the number from our original Speakeasy VoIP provider to a pre-paid T-Mobile cell phone. This part was necessary because Google currently, by policy, will only port cell numbers.

Last night, after waiting a bit more than 24 hours after the T-Mobile port (and having experienced no overlapping service), we began part 2 of the process. As this number is going to become my wife’s Google Voice number, she logged into the Google Voice service, where she selected the number port. At this point a form came up which required information about the T-Mobile account. Because we had purchased a pre-paid cell phone, T-Mobile didn’t really have any information about us in the account (not even a name or address), and it wasn’t clear if the port would succeed, given that Google was asking for things like address details. To head off any potential problems or delays, we headed to T-Mobile’s site to set up the account and provide the details. I think I would have preferred not to have given T-Mobile this information, but wanting this to succeed the first time won.

We filled in the newly-provided T-Mobile information on the Google Voice form, and after clicking on about a half-dozen checkboxes warning us about different aspects and consequences of doing this port, things looked like they went through.

Next up was payment via the Google Checkout service: they charge $20 to port a cell number to Google Voice. It’s a little odd, as T-Mobile didn’t charge us to do the port from the VoIP service, but the end result makes it worth it in my opinion. We went through the details of the Checkout process and paid Google the $20.

At this point, what I had been reading had prepared me for the fact that the Google Voice port request form has no input box for the cell account PIN, and because of this, the initial attempt will fail. Fortunately, the email telling us this came right on the heals of the one confirming the submission of the port request. We went back to the form, added the PIN in the now-provided box (you would think Google would just add this to the original form?), and re-submitted. This time we got a confirmation email that it went through, and would take about 24 hours.

We should know later today if it succeeded, and I’ll post the update once we get that confirmation, but we’re optimistic that we’re about to be one of the group for whom this process worked.

Update (Thursday evening): Success! Michelle’s Google Voice number was updated to be our old home number, and she updated her profile so the calls will actually be routed somewhere. I couldn’t be happier that this worked, and if I would echo anything from what others have written about this process, it would be: make your you provide as much information as possible (and have it ready!), and then don’t push the process – let things happen, and give it time between steps.

Moving Stuff: Fun With Phones Part 1

We currently use Speakeasy’s voice-over-ip (VoIP) service for our house phone, and one of the goals we had in mind for this move was that we somehow retain our phone number. Area codes don’t really matter that much any more, and lots of people (some of whom we even want to keep in touch with!) know and use our current number. And then there’s the hassle of updating endless accounts (banks, credit card company, etc).

The solution that came immediately to mind was porting our number to Michelle’s as-yet unused Google Voice account. Some quick research showed that Google’s policy currently limits porting to cell phone numbers only. No landlines, and VoIP is considered a landline. Further investigation showed a work-around: some people have had success in first porting their landline/VoIP number to a pre-paid cell phone, and once the dust settles there, do a second port of what is now a cell number to Google Voice.

Armed with this possibility, we stopped by a local T-Mobile store (recommended by the author of the post I was following because it worked for him) last night and purchased a pre-paid cell phone. The cheapest phone was a $25 Nokia, and we paid an extra $10 for 10 minutes of time: we should be using this as our home phone for all of a day if everything works. Once back home, I called T-Mobile’s support line – for some reason, they couldn’t do this part in the store – and initiated the port of our home phone from Speakeasy/Level3 (the parent company) to our pre-paid cell.

Unless they need any more information from us, this first part of the process should take anywhere from one to six days, with potentially a day of overlapping service. Once everything is settled (the original post I read said that most problems arise when people jump the gun on part 2), we’ll create a new Google Voice account for Michelle, and attempt the second port.

The upshot of all of this is you can’t really lose: the port will happen or it won’t. If it does, we move on to step 2. If it doesn’t, our current service doesn’t change, and we’ll resign ourselves to changing our number.

Update (Thursday late afternoon): Got a call back from T-Mobile saying there was a hiccup in the transfer request. As we had a pre-paid cell phone with them, they didn’t have our address on file, and Speakeasy/Level3 was requiring that information as part of the transfer. Got that updated with the rep, and they re-sent the request, which was accepted. The new schedule has a day to “go through”, and then another business day for processing and turn-around, which puts us at Monday at the earliest. The tech mentioned we’d know when it went through as we’d get a text message to the cell phone.

Update (Tuesday afternoon): Success! We weren’t notified, but as of Tuesday afternoon calls to our home number were ringing the T-Mobile cell phone! And there doesn’t seem to be any service overlap. I’m going to officially cancel the Speakeasy VoIP service today, and we’re going to give it until tonight before going ahead with part 2. Stay tuned for the details (in a follow-up post, which you can now read here)!

Upcoming Changes to Facebook Look Really Promising

Note: I first posted this on my Facebook account, and decided it would be good to post to a larger (hmmm, do I really have more people reading this blog than I have friends ignoring my ramblings on FB?) audience…well, ok, potentially larger, anyway.

I watched parts of Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote at the F8 conference yesterday, and I liked what I saw.

So I’m not a Facebook developer, and as such I don’t yet have access to Timeline, but when I fired up Spotify this morning, it offered to connect with my Facebook account and add the things I’m listening to to my timeline (and I did it, but as I wasn’t sure what it would do, I’ve initially set it to show up for me only. (In a slightly ironic twist, I was just semi-deriding that option this morning!)).

Either Timeline’s coming very soon, or we’ll be able to have all these external data sources feeding into FB well in advance of the launch, which means it’ll come pre-populated, which is cool. It also means they’ve been thinking about this for a bit, and the recent changes have been more about the behind-the-scenes stuff needed to make this work than the up-front cosmetics.

I think that, especially as someone who’s been interested in the Memex/Gorden Bell-MyLifeBits-type projects for some time now, I’m really looking forward to see this. And if Facebook has a full export feature day one, we’re looking at a pretty useful thing.

More Social Networking For Me, Thanks to OSCON

Looking through my blog’s archive, I never did blog about my getting started with Facebook, but I’m blaming, er, crediting the 2008 O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON). They had put up a note that Facebook was to be the social network of choice for that year. Previously, I had been avoiding Facebook, but with that final nudge, I relented and created the account. And Facebook has been great for reconnecting with people, and glimpsing little bits of peoples’ lives you wouldn’t necessarily see.

There’s a new social networking concept that I’ve dabbled with, but never really got into, called “microblogging”. This is where you make short posts, usually only a sentence or two, or a link. The site that’s been around the longest and is the most successful is Twitter, and no, I do not have an account there. Yet.

I just finished reading an interesting entry on the TED Blog called “How To Talk While People are Twittering“, and it discusses an article on how, as a speaker, being aware of the backchannel communication of your audience can benefit both the audience and you. The point for me is that I’ve been going to OSCON for several years now, and it was only a few years ago that I discovered the traditional OSCON backchannel: IRC.  From that, many of the points this article enumerates, I know first-hand to be true.
So, going to the 2009 OSCON site, seeing that the very first icon in the list of social networks and media to be used this year is Twitter, I have very little doubt that in addition to IRC, Twitter is going to be heavily used and will be another great source of commentary and information (we *are* talking about a group of notorious early adopters).

I know I can easily follow the twittering without an account: there are lots of aggregators out there, but I’m guessing that I’ll create an account for 2 reasons: the first is to be able to participate in the discussion, and the second is that I’ve been saying for the last few years that I’ll blog the conference, and while last year I did ok, I don’t have the greatest track record. Twitter might not be great, in-depth prose, but it will be (micro) blogging, and it will provide a trail that will serve as a memory aid should I then go back and write real blog posts.

Look for me on Twitter. Coming Soon. Summer of ’09. Maybe before. 🙂

The Cost of Reconnecting

I’ve been slow to jump on the social networking bandwagon, but one that I’ve been enjoying great success with is LinkedIn. I’ve been able to reconnect with people I haven’t had contact with for years. One person in particular I’ve been trying to find for several years. They’re the sort to keep a low profile – unlisted phone number, nothing returned when Googling them, etc – so when I did my periodic search on LinkedIn, I was excited to see their name pop up. The only problem, though, is that while we’ve been friends since high school, we share no post-secondary educational institutions, and we’ve never worked together. Of the remaining catagories in LinkedIn’s “Invite this person to your network”, they require an email address. I understand why they do this (I don’t like spam as much as the next person), but now I seem to be stuck.

Almost, anyway. I have a free LinkedIn account, so to send messages within their system, I either need to upgrade to a paid account (the cheapest is $20.00 per month), or order an “InMail” a la carte, at $10 per message. So yesterday I paid my $10, and sent my message. Totally worth it, and will be even more so when he responds!

Update: I just got email from him, so I’m calling this unqualified success!  Money well spent.