Recent Comments


Comment by SkeeterVT on Does My Email or IP Address Reveal my Physical Location? (July 23, 2017 03:02 PM)
If you're REALLY concerned about your computer's IP address "giving away" your physical location, then by all means, use a virtual private network (VP...
Comment by John C on [Windows 10 Tip #7] - Task View & Virtual Desktops (July 22, 2017 02:46 AM)
Thanks for the tip, Bob. I keep forgetting about this feature! This is definitely useful for those that have a single display such as on a laptop. Li...
Comment by Bobsie on [Windows 10 Tip #7] - Task View & Virtual Desktops (July 22, 2017 01:57 AM)
If you unpin an app from the taskbar in one desktop, it will also unpin it from all other desktops. I thought that, perhaps, I could customize each de...
Comment by RandiO on [Windows 10 Tip #7] - Task View & Virtual Desktops (July 21, 2017 05:33 PM)
I think Mr. Rankin is being humble by saying he has got [only] 5 applications open on his desktop. ;) For those who do not have the TaskView icon anyw...
Comment by Ralph C on [Windows 10 Tip #7] - Task View & Virtual Desktops (July 21, 2017 03:55 PM)
Bob, thanks for this. I see the icon everyday, and have wondered what it was for. Could have researched it, but it was never a priority. Now, thanks t...
Comment by NB on [Windows 10 Tip #7] - Task View & Virtual Desktops (July 21, 2017 03:42 PM)
Great explanation, thanks Bob! I looked at task view and virtual desktops when I first got Win10, but never followed up on it. Virtual desktops mig...
Comment by MIKE on HOWTO: Convert Your VHS Tapes to DVD (July 21, 2017 03:14 PM)
Hi, just a newbie, but, wondering. I record my movies and videos onto my hard drive VOT I think. How long would these videos last on my hard drive? Ca...
Comment by Alan on Geekly Update - 20 Jul 2017 (July 21, 2017 04:27 AM)
My problem was my WiFi Bandwidth was being eaten. Network a free download showed my use at 25G...but my supplier said 85G. I was given the run around ...
Comment by Don on [Windows 10 Tip #4] - Cortana: Friend or Foe? (July 20, 2017 10:16 PM)
Cortana is an annoyance. I'd much rather type what I want into a search box and modify it if I have to, before or after the first search. It's ok for ...
Comment by Therrito on Geekly Update - 20 Jul 2017 (July 20, 2017 09:13 PM)
The article about embedding a GIF into a cell via its DNA could be useful in the world of medicine. They could program a cell (such as e-coli) so tha...

Telephony Articles

 

[HOWTO] Avoid Voice Menu Mazes

Are you one of those people who hates Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems - otherwise known as voice mail jail? Automated voice menu systems can be annoying, frustrating, and time-wasting. It is especially irritating when a voice-recognition system didn't understand your request and makes you repeat yourself in an ever louder voice. Here are some tips to help you break free of the voice menus and reach a real person...

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Need Robocall Relief? Here's How to Fight Back

Robocalls are on the rise, despite government regulations prohibiting commercial robocalls. The FCC estimates that 2.4 BILLION robocalls are placed every month, or about seven per U.S. resident. The FTC says it received nearly 3.5 million complaints about robocalls in fiscal year 2016. That’s up an alarming 60% over the same period last year! Here's what you can do to fight back…

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Replace Your Landline With MagicJack?

A reader asks: “I've seen those commercials for Magic Jack, a gadget you can plug into your computer for really cheap phone service. It sounds too good to be true... is MagicJack a scam, or does it actually work? Can it really replace my landline?” Read on for answers...

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The New Google Voice: Love or Hate?

Google Voice recently got its first major update in five years, and it’s a mixed bag. The user interface is different, which always upsets some users. Will you love it or hate it? Let's take a look at what's new and different...

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Is This Amazon's Skype Killer?

Amazon has launched a voice calling and videoconferencing service called “Amazon Chime.” There's a free “Basic” service is useful to consumers, and a paid version targeted at businesses. Free Chime competes with other free voice/video/text messaging systems such as Skype and Google Voice/Hangouts. Let’s see how Amazon Chime stacks up.

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Do You Need A Secret Phone Number?

To avoid identity theft, you may take special pains to keep your Social Security Number private. But what about your phone number? Increasingly, phone numbers are being used to invade your private space, and con you out of money. Here's how to get a second “secret" phone number for free, or at least on the cheap…

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[HOWTO] Stop Annoying Robocalls

If you ever called your phone carrier to demand it block all robocalls, you probably heard the excuse, “We can’t legally do that.” That’s a lie, and the FCC is tired of being its scapegoat. Here's what you and the FCC can do to help stop annoying telemarketers and robocalls...

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[BYOP] Republic Wireless Just Got Better

I've written about and recommended Republic Wireless as a way to save money on your mobile phone bill. They've recently made some changes to their plans and offerings which may save you even more. Read on for the scoop...

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[FLIP] The Rise of Anti-Smartphones

Those of us old enough to remember 90s-era flip phones often wax nostalgic about their elegant simplicity and ruggedness. They were good for phone calls and texts, and not much else. But it seems that those so-called “dumb phones" are making a comeback, and you'll be surprised at some of the people who are sporting them. Read on to learn why, and which models are available...

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Are Modular Phones The Next Big Thing?

Many smartphone users and pundits complain that we have reached “Peak Phone” already. The form factor, size, and features of a smartphone vary only in insignificant ways from one make and model to another. Apple is struggling to generate excitement with every new version of the iPhone. Samsung, HTC, and other Android smartphones are by and large indistinguishable. But there is a new concept in phone design that could change all that…

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[RING!] Hybrid Phone Service Innovations

Hybrid cars run on electricity and switch to gas power only when needed. In similar fashion, hybrid mobile phones operate on a WiFi signal, and switch to the cellular network only when WiFi is not available. This approach can save you a chunk of change on your mobile phone bill, so read on to learn more, and where to get a hybrid calling plan…

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[HACKED] Is Someone Listening to Your Calls?

The April 17, 2016, edition of “60 Minutes” featured a deeply disturbing segment entitled, “Hacking Your Phone.” In it, a German white-hat hacker named Karsten Nohl chillingly demonstrated how easily he could track and eavesdrop on a U. S. Congressman's mobile phone. Is your mobile phone also vulnerable to the same hack...?

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Who Falls For Phone Scams?

Americans lost an estimated $7.4 billion to phone scams in 2015, according to an online Harris Poll survey. It’s projected that 27 million of us got taken by phone scammers last year, Based on the self-selected survey sample; that number is up 53% from 2014. You'll be surprised to learn who is most likely to fall for a phone scam. Read on!

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Are Landlines Doomed to Extinction?

Millions of people are cutting the cords of landline phone service and switching to cellular or VoIP (Voice-over-Internet Protocol). If you’re one of the holdouts, you may be forced to give up you copper-based phone line in the next 5 to 10 years. Here is why landlines are doomed, and a look at four alternatives so commonplace you can buy them at Walmart…

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Do You Still Have a Landline?

If you still have landline phone service, you are in a rapidly shrinking minority. Only 27 percent of U.S. households were still using landlines at the end of 2013, according to data from the FCC. By the end of 2015, households relying exclusively or primarily on landlines will shrink to just 11 percent of total households. Many of those homes are switching to VoIP service. Here's what you need to know...

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Free WiFi Calling On Major Carriers

If you have a mobile calling plan that limits the number of minutes or text messages you can use each month, you'll be interested in today's article. Likewise, if you spend time in buildings where the cellular signal is poor, you'll want to learn more about WiFi Calling. Read on...

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Make Money By Suing Telemarketers?

Paging Mike Rowe! It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it so the rest of us can enjoy the benefits of living in a civilized society. I’m talking about talking to telemarketers. Why? To sue them, of course! Here's how it works...

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Google Hangouts - Finally Usable?

Has Google Hangouts worked out the annoying kinks, and removed the hoops through which users formerly had to jump to enjoy free phone calls, video chat and messaging? Hangouts promises to be the "one app for all your conversations" on desktop or mobile devices. So are we there yet? Read on...

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How “Silent Calls” Lead To Identity Theft

We’ve all had the experience of answering a phone call only to hear nothing. Typically, we just hang up and shrug. But those “silent calls” are the first step in well-organized campaigns to steal identities and bank account balances. Here is how these scams work, and what you should do to protect yourself…

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FCC Cracks Down On Robocalls

It was a busy week for the Federal Communications Commission. But the thing that most people will cheer is a set of new “declaratory rulings” clarifying the rights of landline and mobile phone users when it comes to automated calls and texts from marketers. Read on to learn about new tools you can use to fight back against telemarketers…

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Can MagicJack Replace Your Landline?

A reader asks: “I've seen commercials for Magic Jack, a device you can plug into your computer for really cheap phone service. It sounds too good to be true... is MagicJack a scam, or does it actually work? Can it really replace my landline?” Read on for answers...

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Tox: Skype With Privacy

In an age where online security seems broken, and online privacy an illusion, we need new tools to empower communication without fear that someone is listening, recording, or transcribing every word we say. Tox is one such effort, an alternative to Skype, without all the corporate tentacles. Read on to learn how it works...

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Tox: Skype With Privacy

In an age where online security seems broken, and online privacy an illusion, we need new tools to empower communication without fear that someone is listening, recording, or transcribing every word we say. Tox is one such effort, an alternative to Skype, without all the corporate tentacles. Read on to learn how it works...

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Where Has Google Voice Gone?

Google Voice isn’t going away, as some headlines suggest. Instead, it’s going everywhere. If you're not up to speed on this nifty service that lets you make free phone calls, read on...

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Send Free Text Messages, With or Without a Phone!

If your mobile phone carrier charges you to send or receive a text, here's good news. There are several ways to send a free text message, and with some of them you don't even need a mobile phone. If you've ever wanted to send a quick text message and you didn't have a phone handy... or there's no cellular service where you are... or you hate paying international texting rates, read on!

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We REALLY Need to Talk!

Pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen’s chart-topping 2012 song might have been better titled something like, “Call Me Maybe or Maybe Text Me or SnapChat Me Baby, or Instagram Me One More Time...” But then it wouldn’t have topped the charts, would it? There are so many different ways to contact people now that it’s become a hassle just to choose one...

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New Silent Phone Protects Your Privacy

Privacy and security are heightened concerns for many smartphone users in the wake of revelations about government surveillance. The top-tier phone manufacturers are not doing much to address these issues yet, but at least one startup company is. Learn more about Silent Circle and the Blackphone...

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Cheap Phone Calls - MagicJack and Alternatives

A reader asks: I've had it with the phone company, so I'm checking out how to make free or cheap phone calls over the Internet. MagicJack seems popular, but some of the negative reviews are concerning to me. Are there any good alternatives to MagicJack that you can recommend?

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Can VoIP Service Replace Your Landline?

A reader asks: 'I have a landline and a cell phone, so I'm thinking of dropping the landline phone in favor of VoIP phone service, to save some money. What is your opinion of VoIP, and what are the pros and cons of using it to replace a traditional landline?'

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Stop Unwanted Phone Calls

Those pesky telemarketers are still abundant despite the enactment of the National “Do Not Call List” in 2004 and the similar state laws passed in its wake. Why is that, and what can you do to stop these and other unwanted phone calls?

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BasicTalk: Magic, or Smoke and Mirrors?

Attention, Walmart Shoppers! Have you seen the new residential Voice-over-Internet product in the Electronics department? How about the snarky TV commercial that subtly disparages Magic Jack Plus? Does BasicTalk’s package look familiar with its orange, blue, and white color scheme? Do you smell a 'Con-age?'

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Is The Two-Year Mobile Contract Dead?

The big three mobile phone carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint) have used the same pricing scheme for a long time: sell phones at steep discounts and make it up on service contracts that lock customers into monthly payments for at least two years. T-Mobile, the fourth largest carrier, seems to be challenging that paradigm in a way that gives consumers more flexibility. But does it really? Read on to learn more about T-Mobile's new 'no contract' mobile service plans...

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Send Text Messages for Free

A reader asks 'How can I send a text message for free? My mobile phone carrier gives me a small number of free texts, then charges me ten cents to send or receive a text. Is there a way to send a free text message?' Actually, yes! Here's how it works...

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Do You Still Need A Landline?

Between mobile phone service and free VoIP options such as Skype, does anyone really need to keep paying for a traditional landline? Many families have decided they don’t. But before you cut that cord, there are some things you'll need to consider...

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Free Internet Phone Calls

A reader asks: Is there any way to make free phone calls over the Internet? I've had it with the phone company and their never ending fees. I'd appreciate your advice, especially if it will help me drop my landline service for good...

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Free Phone Calls With Bobsled

Bobsled is a free Internet voice and messaging service that lets you make free voice calls to mobile and landline phones in the U. S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. You like free calling? Read on to learn more about Bobsled...

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Free Phone Calls With Ooma?

Have you seen those TV commercials for an odd-sounding gadget called Ooma that promises to virtually eliminate your phone bill? Read on to see if this device lives up to the hype...

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Five Cool Things You Can Do With Skype

Skype is one of the most popular free services on the Web. With a rich set VOIP calling features it is unequalled by the various copycat programs that offer free internet phone calls. But in addition to making voice calls and chatting online, Skype has a bunch of really cool features you might not be aware of. Read on to learn more about some fun and useful things you can do with Skype...

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Warning: Skype Urgent Online Repair Scam

I just got a phone call on my Skype number which was very strange. It looked like a virus warning, and the caller’s name was 'SYSTEM NOTICE - URGENT ONLINE REPAIR'. I assume this is bogus... right?

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Free Skype Calls on a Cell Phone?

Can I use Skype to make free calls on a cell phone? I'm almost always in a wifi zone, so why not use Skype or other VoIP calling services to make calls, instead of burning up my minutes? Seems logical, but I've heard that some mobile carriers force you to use your minutes even when calling on Skype. I'd love to have this subject clarified, thanks!

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Free Conference Calls With Skype

Does Skype offer a good conference calling experience if you have multiple participants? I know Skype is free, but are there any limitations on conference calls with Skype? Are there other free conference calling services I should check out?

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Cheap Phone Calls - MagicJack Alternatives

I've had it with the phone company, so I'm checking out how to make free or cheap phone calls over the Internet. MagicJack seems popular, but some of the negative reviews are concerning to me. Are there any good alternatives to MagicJack that you can recommend?

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Free Text Messaging Services

How can I send a text message for free? I don't have text messaging on my mobile phone plan, and it costs me ten cents to send or receive a text. Is there a way to send a free text message?

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MagicJack Phone Service

Is Magic Jack phone service for real? I've seen commercials for Magic Jack, a device you can plug into your computer for really cheap phone service. It sounds too good to be true... is MagicJack a scam, or does it really work?

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Is Your Phone Bill Being Crammed?

If you haven't been reading your phone bill line by line, it's time to start. Phone bill cramming - the insertion of unauthorized charges - is a rapidly growing form of fraud. Here's how to detect bogus charges on your phone bill, and what you can do about it...

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Free Conference Calls With Google Voice

Google Voice includes a conference calling feature that allows up to four callers to be connected in a single conversation. Google does not charge for this service, but that doesn't mean it's always free. Here's how Google Voice conference calling works, and some limitations to be aware of...

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Will Microsoft Ruin Skype?

On May 10, 2011, VoIP pioneer Skype agreed to be purchased by Microsoft for the princely sum of $8.5 billion in cash. Is this good news or a bad omen for users of the popular Internet calling software? Here's my take...

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Free VoIP Phone Calls

I've had it with the phone company and their never ending fees. Isn't there a way to make free phone calls over the Internet? I'd appreciate your advice, especially if it will help me drop my landline service for good...

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How to Record a Phone Call

I need to record phone calls for some interviews I will be doing. I know there are some gadgets you can connect to your phone, but I'm thinking that a software solution will work better for voice recording. What do you recommend?

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Free Phone Calls with Google Voice

Google provides a lot of useful and free telephony services, such as Google Voice, Google Talk and Google Phone. But there are a couple of key features missing from Google's line-up of freebies. The requirement to use a PC in order to make calls is a big one -- people want to use phones to make phone calls. A new device promises to solve those problems...

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Vonage Internet Phone Service

I'm thinking about switching to Vonage for my home telephone service. Can it completely replace the landline service I currently get from the phone company? Are there any gotchas I should know about?

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MagicTalk Free Phone Calls

I've seen something called MagicTalk that's supposed to give you free phone calls to landlines and mobile phones. Can I really make free phone calls, or is MagicTalk a scam?

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VOIP Phones

Voice over IP (VoIP) is a great alternative to the traditional landline phones for making phone calls. VoIP even beats cell phones on price - it's free from service providers such as Skype, Yahoo! Voice, and others. But the hardware you use to make free Internet phone calls is another matter. Here's the scoop on the gear you need to make free VOIP calls from your computer...

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What Is Google Voice?

I'm a little confused by Google Voice. It seems like a way to get free phone service, but that sounds too good to be true. Can you explain what Google Voice is, and is not?

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Free Teleconferencing

Voice teleconferencing remains a staple of business despite the proliferation of alternatives such as email, instant messaging, and webinars. When you want a meeting but can’t get everyone together in the same room, it’s natural to call for a teleconference. The problem is that teleconferencing can get expensive...

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Free Phone Calls With iPod Touch

I have an iPod Touch, and it looks almost exactly like an iPhone. Just wondering... is there any way to hack my iPod Touch so it can make phone calls?

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TrapCall Reveals Blocked Caller ID

I've read about TrapCall, a service that claims to be able to reveal the true caller for calls where the callerID info is blocked or hidden. Does Trapcall really work? Are there any privacy concerns or gotchas?

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My New Phone is an iPod Touch

I had myself talked into buying a new phone, and was eagerly checking out the latest phones, smartphones and PDAs. But something happened on the way to the phone store...

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Magic Jack - Good or Evil?

Perhaps you've read reports about spyware in Magic Jack, or heard claims that the company sells your private information to third parties. Here's the scoop...

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Skype: Beyond the Basics

You already know that Skype allows you to use VoIP technology to make phone calls over the Internet. Here's a look at some of the more advanced features, and how to incorporate them into your work or social life...

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Online Meeting Services

I need to share Powerpoint presentations with a large group of people. Which online meeting service should I use?

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Free Calls With Skype

My friend has gotten rid of his landline phone in favor if something called Skype. He claims he can make free calls all over the world. What exactly is Skype, is it really free, and is it legal?

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What is Internet Telephony?

Seems like everybody, and everything, is getting connected to the Internet. Have you heard about Internet Telephony? If you have high- speed Internet service, you may be able to save on telephone charges by connecting the phone to your modem instead of the phone company's wall jack. Read on to learn more about using the Internet to make phone calls.

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