Friday, November 23, 2012

Forward SMS messages to your email

Recently I found an increase in the number of text messages I receive.  I don’t why so many prefer texts over emails but for me it was a hassle.  My main issue was I don’t wear my mobile phone when I am home.  It sits on charge.  I can answer calls anywhere in my house on my mobile phone because I have a Panasonic Blue Tooth cordless phone that communicates with my mobile device.

When I am watching TV, I have no clue a SMS was sent to me.  I have a tablet computer on my sofa that alerts me to new emails but not SMS messages.  I decided to research the ability to forward text messages to my gmail account.

I found two applications that do the job.  The first is called PopMyPhone.  Not only can this send emails for SMS but it can email you about missed calls.  My only gripe with this app is it’s tied to a 3rd party server to pass the SMS messages to where they get emailed.  I would have preferred a solution where the phone sends the email directly.  This is app is free provided you don’t receive more than 50 texts per pay.  I realize that won’t fly for many but for my needs it works.  Another minor gripe is the email has lots of help info in the body of the email.  I find that annoying and there is no way to opt out of the help messages.

The other app I found called SMS Backup+ can accomplish my needs although it was not really designed for it.  This app is geared to backing up all your SMS messages to your gmail account.  With a little tweaking in the setup options you can fudge it to just send an email after a SMS is received.  There will be a one minute delay in the email being sent but it’s all done locally on your phone with no 3rd party servers.  This app has one major drawback, the developer treats these emails as backups and forces the emails to not land in your inbox.  They are labeled with a ‘SMS’ tag but I would prefer them to show in the inbox which I was not able to do.  I tried contacting the developer about a possible enhancement but they did not respond to my request.

Here are the settings you need to get SMS Backup+ to forward your SMS messages:

Connect and Auto backup must be checked
In Auto Backup settings

  • Regular schedule is set to Never
  • Incoming schedule is set to 1 minute

Under Backup settings

  • Uncheck Mark as read otherwise you could miss the email

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Windows Live Calendar Gadget

When you use devices like Androids and iPads you get spoiled with the nice calendar options that are available.  I use Google calendar and wanted a simple calendar on my Windows 7 desktop so I would not have to keep a tab open in my browser to see what events are coming up. 

Windows Live Calendar Gadget filled the void.  This is a simple clean gadget that runs on the Windows 7  desktop.  It supports iCal which means you can link it to your Google Calendar to get your events on the desktop.  It’s a bit tricky navigating Google calendar to get your iCal address.  Click the gear in the upper right corner and then select settings.  Then select calendars in the upper left area and then select your calendar in the displayed list.  Then click the green iCal button and the URL will be shown that you need to paste into the Windows Calendar Gadget. 

The calendar looks very similar to the included Windows 7 gadget.  The difference is it shows your events below the calendar and highlights the day in a bolder font.  When you click the event in the list it shows more details.

The default look is a midnight skin.  I changed mine to the Aero look.  My only gripe is the size of the calendar.  Mine is set to large but it’s very tiny.  The developer needs to adjust the code for more sizing options.

The calendar site is here.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My Voice Pulse experience

I have been using Voice Pulse for about 4 years now.  When I signed up for VOIP my primary interest was to save on my phone bill.  Verizon aka the ‘Billing machine’ had sent me a notice that due to the fact that I did not make many long distance calls with them they were going to surcharge my account.  Yes I rolled my eyes on that sentence.  Between all the bogus FCC and other taxes, I had enough of their overpriced phone service.

So I pulled the trigger, visited one my favorite forum discussion sites called and read the experiences from other users.  I went with a service called Voice Pulse which back in the day worked and had good service.  Well that was then and now it’s a whole different story.  About 18 months ago something changed over at Voice Pulse.  I have no idea what but the service went downhill.  First they dropped their internal voice mail system and went with a 3rd party called YouMail.  You can probably guess what happened, a finger pointing game when voice mail did not work correctly. The MWI (message waiting indicator) was the main problem.  Someone would leave you a voice mail and you had no clue voice mail was sent.  Well many months (years) later it still does not work to any degree of reliability.  Next was the voice quality.  It was always good (not great) but more than acceptable.  Then Voice Pulse did some sort of update which made my AT&T TL92328 cordless handsets a door stop.  Nobody could hear me, the output was very soft.  They worked fine on any other VOIP / POTS service but not Voice Pulse.  I had to buy all new handsets from Panasonic to get my phone service back.  (some savings switching to VOIP!)  Then my cell phone minutes were on the rise because none of my friends could reach me on my Voice Pulse number.

So months past, I opened several trouble tickets with them.  It became very clear they were a 9-5 shop.  If something went down during the evening hours it would be down until the next day.  I was kinda shocked when they had a big outage and had no idea for the whole evening.  You would think they would be monitoring major system outages 24/7.

Then the bizarre started, the phone would ring, you would answer after the first ring and nobody was there and calls went directly to voice mail. And of course with no surprise the MWI indicator was not working again.  Then I could not call any 800 service, my cell could call the same number but not Voice Pulse.  So the end of the road came when mega storm Sandy hit the east coast.  I was not able to make almost any call yet my cell phone could call the same numbers without issue. 

For anyone considering VOIP my experience is don’t port your number on day one.  After reading many reviews / issues on the forums get a temporary DID number and carefully test your selection.  None of them are perfect.

I will do a follow up with which is my new VOIP service.  So far it works great.