Thursday, April 08, 2010

Technologically-Challenged Dude Wants to Simplify Communications, Help!

With so many IP communications-related experts on our DIDXchange and in my social/business Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook networks, I'm inviting all of these to help the following person get what he needs. I am copying his blog post "word for word."

Title: Technologically-Challenged Dude Seeks To Update/Simplify His Life, If At All Possible

Body:  I wear many hats: Husband, Coach, Marketer, Technician, Communicator...and sometimes I put on a few more as they fall to the ground and I pick them up. 

To this point in the game I've done rather well with the technoloigies I've had at my disposal. However, it's come to my attention that I could be a little more efficient, and perhaps spend a little less coin, if I were more aggressive in the use of emerging technologies, such as WiFi, VoIP, and so on. But, given my limited understanding of what might the best blend of price, stability, and ease of use, I have decided to ask the world of technologically-proficient people (I was going to use the term GEEK, but some folks don't like that) what their opinion might be.

Here's what I have at this point in time: 

Home telephone - VoIP (provider unnamed) - we get less than a dozen calls a week, and miss most of them because the calls come while we're at our job, at a run or workout, or traveling.

Computer - Toshiba laptop, running Windows Vista, plus a mix of Microsoft, Apple and open source applications. Wireless capability, cable internet provider.

Cell phone - simple CDMA cell phone (the very savvy will know my provider!). I cannot take my phone into my work place, so it's only used when I'm away from work (sit in car, check messages before driving to work, at lunch, before driving home, before/after workout). When I'm out and about I do carry it with me, though.

I recently purchased a 32GB iPod Touch, which - believe it or not - isn't a bad little gadget. Originally I bought it because of the music I want to have available at races and events (one of my other "jobs" has to do with race operations for a race production company...basically means I fill the gaps as needed...get 'er done kind of stuff). It's basically an iPhone without calling capability. It has WiFi capability and I've got some of the social networking apps downloaded, i.e., FB, Twitter, TweetDeck. I also have Skype on it. I found a piece of software for timing and scoring races, which is available only in PalmOS and the iPhoneOS.

I want to simplify my technology! I know I probably can't get a one-size-meets-all needs kind of gadget. I want to be able to get things done without having to be stuck within someone's WiFi limitations. I want to get as much as I have now, and perhaps a little more, without spending so much, or sending the money to a lot of different people and often overlapping services. If I could get it all from one provider and one device that is mobile enough and small enough but not too small, it would be fantastic.

So, what can you guys tell me?

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1 comment: said...

From a Facebook friend with expertise in IP communications: I wish you'd posted this _before_ you bought the iPod Touch. From my opinion, what you really should have gotten was an iPhone.

While I am regarded by most of my friends as an alpha-geek, one of the things I eschew is the "geek-chic Batman utility belt" look ... I want as few devices with as much capability as I can have.

If "budget wasn't the question", I'd recommend two products and a change to you. The change is get a _sane_ VoIP provider that knows how to implement "follow me" rules or "multi-ring" without killing your wallet. I figure if I can do it with an Asterisk switch for my customers, there is no reason The Big Boys can't.

Switch out the iPod for an iPhone. Get a good SIP client (I use 'iSip' on mine, or Skype, depending what I am doing).

Then load Counterpath's "Bria" software on your laptop and spend about $50 on a good USB headset (Sienhauser rocks).

So here's what your new life looks like:

Calls to your house are simultaneously routed, based on the time of day, to the SIP accounts for your SIP client on your laptop and and your iPhone. Unanswered calls go to voicemail on your VoIP mailbox, and you can retrieve them anywhere via your mobile SIP clients. Extra points if your provider will do IMAP-enabled voicemail, so you can use either Outlook or Thunderbird.

Your iPhone syncs to your home machine and your laptop, so you're sure you've got the music you want, anytime. You've always got your mobile apps, and your communication options with you, in hand. MotoRockr Bluetooth stereo headset for extra points while driving or running; music or calls handled hands-off.

Your laptop becomes your mobile command post for your email, your home phone -- heck, add a VPN client and take your office calls with it too -- and your work (your work _does_ do VoIP at the enterprise, right?).

Two devices, two accessories, as connected as you need to be.

Let me know if anything isn't clear, or you need help with any of it.