Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Google Voice....better than last time

Back in July when I got my invite, I wrote a piece about Google Voice and how it didn't work well with anyone who wanted to keep their old number. At that point, basically, there were no features you could use if you didn't switch your number completely.

I pity anyone who switched their number because sometime in October, Google Voice made it possible to use some of the features with your existing number. I've been using it since then, but have not had a chance to blog about it.

Basically, the key is the voicemail thing, more specifically, voicemail transcription. Once you set up Google Voice with your existing number, calls are routed, without your knowledge, through Google Voice to your phone. If I chose not to pick up, and the caller leaves a voicemail, a few wonderful things happen:

1. I get a text message saying who my missed call was from
2. Between 30 seconds and a minute later, I get 2-4 texts with a transcription, 70% accuracy, of what was left in the message
3. At about the same time, I get an email with the transcription, as well as an embedded audio file, so I can listen to the message right there.

This is just what I needed, because most of the time my phone is on, I'm just in a place (like class) where I can't pick up, even to listen to a message. The transcriptions are fairly good, and the message gets across. The voicemails, all of them, are saved so I can go back in time. Instead of pressing a button to delete, you press a button, like on Gmail, to "mark as read."

This is a great, great thing. Thank you Google for making it so I didn't have to full-out switch my number.

...but this is just until I get an iPhone in June.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Old Format...

It's time for a new layout on this blog. It's not all about 3D Basecamp anymore, although I'll keep the address.

Rest In Peace, old layout...


_andrew

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Addiction....to Google Calendar

Well I guess I have not posted here much. Since this is turning into a reminiscence/geeky blog, I will take this opprotunity to proclaim my love. For my calendar.

At RCDS, we had FirstClass, and with that, came FirstClass Calendar. I lived on that thing. I would get a reminder before events of importance, and I would say to people, "If I don't get this on my calendar right away, I'll forget to be there."

Since heading to college, I've picked up on Google Calendar and, basically, I can not live without it.
With Google Calendar you can have multiple, well... "calendars."
I've got like 15.

First off, I have my "College" calendar, which I set up in September. It has my class schedule, repeating on the appropriate days, until the end of the semester. I also have important, college-official events, like class registration there. All these things show up in Blue.

I've got my own personal calendar in green. I've got a calendar for events that I am employed to photograph at in purple. Zipcar reservations in red.

Here's where it gets fun.

1. I take a pill each morning. Sometimes, but rarely, I forget. I set up a new calendar called "Pill Reminders." Every morning--at a time programmed specifially for 20 minutes before my first class or committment of the day-- I get an email reminder saying, "Have you taken your pill?" With a little smile of technology, each morning, I've begun to nod and respond in my head, "Yes, yes I have." Best of all, this calendar is hidden. I don't see the orange "Pill" event every time I look at my calendar. I only know it's there when I get my morning reminder email.

2. Conn College is putting on Doubt this coming weekend. As part of my Technical Theater class, I had to put in 25 labor hours into the set/costumes/lighting of either this show, or the previous one, The Tempest. I would get an email from the Theater Department with a listing of "crew calls" for the week. At that point, I would put each of those calls into a new calendar called, you guessed it, "Doubt Crew Calls." Often times, this calendar overlapped with other events in my life. In order to try to plan out how I would accomplish my 25 hours of crew time, I created a new calendar: "Doubt Goals." If there was a place when I had a few hours and a crew call was going on, I would create an event in "Doubt Goals" called "Goal: 2.5." If I ended up going for those 2.5 hours, I would change the event to read "Completed: 2.5" then change the calendar from "Doubt Goals" to "Doubt Completed Crew Calls." This way, I could go back and double check how many hours I had completed and how many were left.

3. Finally, I get an email from Google which has everything on my agenda for that one day. With my personal calendar, my class schedule, a zip car reservation, an event to photograph, a Doubt crew call, and a Doubt Goal, those calendars can look pretty crazy.

But that's how I stay organized. And I couldn't live without it.

Thanks, Google Calendar.

_andrew

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Yankee Stadium: A New Era

Back in September, 2008 I reflected on the closing of what's not referred to as the "Old" Yankee Stadium.

A week ago today, I had the pleasure of making my first trip to the New Yankee Stadium. And it was an experience.

Overall, I truly like the new stadium, and I think it really feels like Yankee Stadium should. For one thing, it's spotless. That'll surely change over time, so savor it now, but it's nice to be in a clean stadium for once. It really feels like the old stadium when you're sitting in it, just nicer.

An amazing thing is the open space-- the Great Hall, as well as the open-air section behind the top area of stands. Previously, all the areas of the stadium were fully enclosed, but now the areas where food are sold for the top two tiers of seats has no roof and a view of the sky. It makes SUCH a difference.

The only downside of the stadium is that everything's just so expensive. Also, the lines were somewhat endless (despite bountiful choices off food,) but I think those sort of kinks will be worked out once the building ages a little.

All in all, it does the Yankees justice. But I'll never forget that one day in August, 2006.


_andrew

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Google Voice... and why it could be an awesome program

Preface: I havn't posted in a really long time. I think I'll post a bit more now that life has settled down over the past year. For one, I know where I'll be going to school: Connecticut College class of '13!

Last night I [finally] got my Google Voice invitation email. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Google Voice is a new application by Google (created from their acquisition of an online program called GrandCentral) which gives you a new, free phone number. This is a central number that, basically, you can program to ring on your multiple lines-- your cell, your home, your work. If you want to always be in contact with your, let's say, parent's give them the new number and--with one call--it will ring wherever you may be. No need to have voice messages that say "OK well I'll try calling you on your cell" anymore.

It can also be used to adjust where certain people call. If you want your boss to have only cirtain access to you, it can be set so he or she will ring only on your work and cell lines.

I tested out Google Voice briefly. When a someone calls your Google Voice number, your various lines will ring. (The first time a given caller calls, they are asked to give their name.) When your lines ring, it will say "[name] is trying to call you. Press 1 to accept the call, press 2 to send to voicemail, or press 3 to listen in on a voice mail being left."

Google voice has a remarkable, free transcription feature. With the new, central phone line comes a central voice mailbox. Within about 60-90 seconds (from my own tests) after a voice message is left, Google will have completed a surprisingly good voice-to-text transcription. The message can be played as audio, or simply read.

This is all well and good, and Google Voice could be great for some people.

But not for me, at the moment.

I'm a student and I've only got one line that I control: my cell phone. To make use of my Google Voice line, I would have to alert everyone that I have a new number, but continue to use my cell phone to access incoming calls from the Google Voice line. To make outgoing calls, I could continue to use my cell phone number, but it would come up on other people's caller ID as me, and if they were to call back, they would call to my cell number, not my Google Voice number.

If I wanted to call through my Google Voice number there are two options.
First, if I were on my computer, I could go to the Google Voice website and type in/chose the contact I wish to call, then tell it which line to connect to. For example, I could chose a contact named Mom and pick up the call from my cell phone (meaning it will ring there and that's actually where I will conduct the call from.)

If I'm not at a computer, it's a painful process. First I have to dial my number on my phone, then I am told I have no new messages. I'm then prompted to put in my pin, then I have to dial the number I want to call. I don't even know how it would work if I had contacts yet, but I surely don't remember everyone's number.

Basically, Google Voice seems like a good application for someone in the professional world. The only reason I really would want to use it at this point in my life is for the transcribed voice mails. But chainging my number to everyone I know and changing my dialing out procedures are not worth the transcribed voice mails.

If Google Voice could be improved, here's how I imagine it: Instead of picking a new number upon sign up, Google should let you use an existing number. Then I could use my cell phone number. When people call me, it will ring on my phone and give me those same options of answering (which I like) or transcribe the message if I chose.

I had the good fortune of picking a Google Voice number quite similar to my cell phone number (which I really like). My cell is XXX-500-7XXX and I found a Google Voice number that shared to 500 part too, XXX-500-8XXX.

Nevertheless, I won't be using Google Voice for the time being.

_andrew

I do hope to continue to post more regularly.