I found this post on the blog over at Voip.com about SoliCall. It’s software that works with popular VOIP applications to block out distracting background noise when you’re on a call. Just think, you don’t have to lock yourself in the bathroom when you’re on the phone with a client (I’ve done this…). When kids know you’re on the phone, they affectionately launch into what Voip.com calls making “As Much Noise As Possible” (AMNAP). I think it’s part of their genetic programming.
I’ve downloaded Solicall but haven’t done the VOIPGirl test drive yet. If anyone else has, please let me know what you think.
I just noticed that Andy Abramson’s got Sitofono (www.sitofono.com) on his blog now. Sitofono is a web-based toll free service that lets you put a “call us” button on your website or blog for a flat fee. Customers (or loyal fans) just click the button to call you free of charge. Calls can be made either with a microphone headset or a regular landline phone.
Judging by Andy’s earlier post, he’s probably got GrandCentral going on this number too so your call will be routed to wherever he is or to a unified voicemail box that keeps track of all your wonderful feedback. But wait, before that happens he’s letting iotum determine if he’s available, how he’s available (like on his mobile, phone, or instant messenger), and of course how important you are so he won’t miss your call. Wonder who’s doing the dishes?
Carolyn Schuk from Voxilla has an interesting post on TelTel, who she calls one of IP communications’ best kept secrets:
“With an estimated 2 million registered international users for its service, TelTel is probably one of the best-kept secrets in VoIP. By comparison, Jeff Pulver’s much better-known Free World Dialup, has some 600,000 users.”
Now, two million is a pretty big number so I thought I’d give the TelTel softphone a try (I’ll be honest and say I hadn’t heard of them unitl now).
I was pleasantly surprised by the packaging. The software has a nice look and feel to it and I think the installation and account setup really have the novice user in mind. For new users, the first tip of the day is a handy glossary of screen symbols. Unfortunately, there’s no way to find it again once you dismiss the window. Oh well….
Further exploration of the software revealed a few problems. I experienced delays and serious hang-time as I clicked various screen elements and links (such as Buy Credit, Help and the user forum of all things). Plus, when I tried to make a call, I got the add contact dialog box instead.
I’m also not sure what’s free about this service and what’s not. TelTel subscriber to subscriber calls are free, and TelTel to landline phones are subject to low calling rates (nothing new here), but what about TelTel to SIP phone numbers, or SIP phones to TelTel?
While the marketing message is that TelTel is Skype-like but SIP-driven, I’m going to stick with GizmoProject until this softphone lives up to its looks.
Initially, I thought that the online support systems for VOIP softphones Skype and Gizmo Project were pretty decent. Using them to answer burning questions is another matter.
Online Help belongs with the application. When I click Help > Online Help, please DON’T send me to the Knowledge Base or FAQs. Please DON’T open up another browser window and make me wait while the generic Help home page appears. Please DON’T make me use the Search feature. High level user guides or getting started tutorials are great, but make sure they’ve got some meat in them.
A Knowledge Base gives you little gulps of info with no breadcrumb trail to follow and no sense of context. To really aid and educate users, build Help right into the interface. Take the time to explain fields and buttons before I use them. To provide more information, use a fly-out Help pane (part of the interface that’s only visible when needed) and pull the content from an online server.
I want online Help that is specific to what I’m looking at on the screen. I want to browse Help by drilling down to the level of detail I need without losing my place in the story.
I recently had someone comment on my "moving on" from Vonage. "Moving on to what, I may ask?" You may. It’sÂ a good question. I find it time consuming trying to figure out whatÂ service best suits me. For consumers, looking into VOIP is like unraveling a ball of string. Before you know it, you’ve got a rat’s nest. With the Internet at your fingertips, it’s deceptively easy. Just start with Google, then click, click…click-click, then like, "Oh man, where am I?", Back button a couple of times. Then all the VOIP sites start looking the same, heck they all start sounding the same too… Here’s what I decided:
- I want a phone number in my local area code
- I prefer a softphone (point and click dialing from my PC). AÂ handset with phone adaptorÂ setup (like I had with Vonage) is handy, but not absolutely necessary in my case. Most of the time my work calls occur while I’m at my computer so a heaset/microphone setup works great.
- I want voicemail and call forwarding (very basic, nothing fancy)
The topÂ two options I’m considering are: Virtual number call forwarded to a softphone: CallCentric.com offers BC phone numbers at $5.95 per month. I can call forward to my Gizmo softphone account and thenÂ use Gizmo to make and receive calls. Gizmo rates within Canada are pretty cheap. Of course, if Gizmo ever decides to offer Canadian area codes, THAT would be even easier. PhoneGnome: PhoneGnome is available through Voxilla.com. It is a pretty amazing, self-configuring, do-everything, product. VOIP calls are free, I keep my regular phone number, andÂ I can use the PhoneGnome softphone (SoftGnome) or call forward to my Gizmo account. PhoneGnome also works with Skype. I can alsoÂ make and receiveÂ Skype calls on a regular handset using the add-on product GnomeLink. Choices, choices… Â