Archive for July, 2009

Google Voice: Review

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Well, it finally came… my Google Voice invitation. I decided to check it all out. The interface looks like Gmail, so it should be familiar to many people.

The first step was picking my phone number, and it posed an interesting question… what's more important? An area code you like or your phone number spelling something? I decided that since I tend to move a lot and am not in one area code for long, I would pick a phone number that spelled something nobody can forget. :) The upside? You will probably never forget my number. The down side? I show up on caller ID as calling from Canton, Ohio. OH well.

The next step I took was importing my Outlook contacts. It remembered my categories, and used those as Groups. You can make settings for groups. For example, a group can get a special voicemail outgoing message. And a group can be routed to some of your phone numbers. Or a group can go straight to voicemail. So this means I can have one outgoing message for friends, one for certain business associates, etc…

And my most important peeps can be sent to ring my office and cell phone AT THE SAME TIME… or regular peeps can just ring the office, and I don't have to take it on my cell phone. You can also set temporary numbers (like your mountain cabin, as the help file says) in case you want calls to find you there.

Not sure if you want to take a call from someone? When they call your number, Google Voice calls you, and announces who they are. You then have a pile of choices… take the call, send it to voicemail, send it to voicemail but listen in on the voicemail (and hit a button to interrupt and start talking to the person leaving a voicemail), or record the call.

Yes. Record the call. I think it said it will announce something saying it's recording. I haven't tried that.

Want your calls to look like they come from your number? Two ways to do that. One is to dial your own number (say from your mobile), and then instruct the system to call out. The other is to be on the Google Voice website, and initiate the call from there. You say who to call or what number, and what phone you want to use. It'll call you first, and once you connect, it calls your intended party with your Google Voice number showing up on caller ID.

If you initiate calls from Google Voice, you might get charged. Right now, calls from the US to the 48 continental states are free. Calls to landlines in other countries are pretty comparable to rates I've seen from other services… $0.02/min to the UK, $0.03/min to Australia, $0.01/min to Canada. Calls to mobile phones are always more. But hey, if I'm out on my mobile phone somewhere, it'll cost me less to call through Google Voice than to pay Sprint's fees to make international calls. Google Voice gives you 10 cents free to play around (well, I got 10 cents!).

Text messaging was very cool. Google Voice understands which of my phones is my mobile phone. If you text my Google Voice number, it comes to me as coming from Google Voice. If I reply, it goes through Google Voice back to you. That means that if I go to the SMS dashboard on the Google Voice website, I will see our texts as a threaded conversation. I can send SMS or reply to them right there. That was pretty neat. My cell phone number never showed up in any of it.

Some features I haven't tried out.

  • If you have received a call on one phone, and you want to switch to another phone, you can evidently hit *. Your other phones will ring, and you can pick up the call where you want. Sounds neat!
  • It evidently transcribes voicemails… didn't try that yet. They will be in your Google Voice inbox, and you can have them emailed to you. I love that from Vonage, so I'm sure I'd like that here.
  • It's integrated with GOOG411 when you call into your own number.
  • One of the types of phone numbers you can put in is Gizmo, which seems to be a Skype competitor. Sure, you can put in a Skype number, and just label that as work or home.

I've had it a few hours and have given nobody the number. :) So I'm not totally testing it. I'm afraid of giving out a phone number I'm not sure if I'll really keep and use. But I do like the idea of a business card with ONE phone number on it… call me, and I'll get it in the office, mobile, somewhere else, or on voicemail. And it could be my phone number for LIFE. That is attractive.

I'd love to keep testing this, but am afraid to give out my number! I'll have to give another review once I'm using this more. :)


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A Consulting Call Shouldn’t Be A Sales Pitch

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Thanks to John aka ColderICE for his great radio show today. I had to listen to it when he said he was outing someone. And wouldn't you know, it was someone on my poop list, who I've pointed at before here in this blog.

This link will download an MP3 of the radio show, which was the 1 July 2009 "BS Walks" show John does on TalkShoe.com.

John gives a bad rating for Bonanzle late in the show, which I was very interested in. I disagree that Bonanzle is a good solution if you want an eCommerce presence. If you want one, get a buyitsellit.com or Vendio Store. Why bring traffic to a marketplace with competitors! Bring people to your own website.

But it was the middle of the show that tickled me.

John found out that Skip McGrath just started tweeting on Twitter, but is already trying to push an e-book about Twitter. You can evidently get his free e-book if you sign up and agree to have a 30-minute "consulting call." Ugh. Then it's not really free, is it. It takes your time and energy.

John's first point was basically why is a Twitter newbie trying to push/sell you an e-book about something that is new to him? I've been on Twitter since April 2008. I should write an e-book! John should write an e-book. Skip, this is not your specialty.

Not mentioned in John's show is something I noticed in Skip's tweets. He's looking for YOU to tweet him Twitter tips (for his book). So once again, he's barely writing his own book. I saw him do this for his last eBay book… he was in eBay discussion forums asking people for information.

John continued with a caller, Karen, who reported her experience signing up for Skip's e-book. She got the "consulting call." She said they asked questions about what she wanted to get out of this, how her credit was, and how her finances were. She said she didn't have credit cards, and lived on a fixed income. Karen reported that the "consulting call" contained no consulting or advice, even though she asked about product sourcing (supposedly Skip's specialty). The call lasted 8 minutes and 8 seconds, and the caller told her to buy Skip's system.

FAIL. Karen said on John's radio show that her impression of Skip was that everything he sends out is just full of affiliate links. She said that wasn't a consulting call, it was a sales pitch, and she thought the whole thing really felt like a "snake oil salesman." Her call wasn't with Skip, by the way. It was with one of his "coaches."

But this matches everything else I've seen from Skip, and why he's on my poop list. Time after time, I've seen him not have original information or advice. His informational products seem to be taken from other people's information or publicly available info. He is mining YOU and your tips for his books, but did you get paid for that? Did you get any credit?

I don't think his materials are right for anybody. I don't want newbies reading that stuff. I don't want veteran eBay sellers reading that stuff. I just think that this whole thing isn't much. And I'm still not happy with the time Skip admitted that he hadn't checked out a company he was promoting (to make affiliate money)… he had to admit that after his loyal followers paid that company and felt scammed.

Don't sell out your followers.

Twitter is about quality interactions with people who have something interesting to say. I'm not following Skip, but he's following me. :) Well, as of when I'm typing this, anyway.

Thanks to John and his caller, Karen, for coming out and publicly talking about this. It's easy to keep things quiet and not want to air this stuff. But people should know the truth. A free e-book is rarely truly free. A consulting call should not be a sales pitch. No "coach" representing a blogger/educator should be asking people about their credit and finances (and Karen should have refused to answer). I'm just not OK with any of this.


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