Archive for March, 2011

Make free phone calls via Gmail

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Along with all the other stuff you can do in the World According to Google, you can now make phone calls. While you may be used to searching the web, viewing breaking news, using Google Docs productivity tools, and of course taking advantage of the the omnipresent Gmail service, you can now make free phone calls.

To take advantage of this service, simply log into your Gmail account, open the Chat menu, and click on "Call phone". This service takes advantage of the Google Voice infrastructure to let you complete calls–free to US and Canadian numbers–right inside of Gmail. You do need to install the voice and video chat plugin for your browser, which is compatible with systems running Linux, Windows XP and later, and Mac OS X (Intel only, not PowerPC). Once you've done that, you can start making your free VoIP calls.

Google anticipates that this service will remain available (and free) through at least the end of 2011.

Voicemail without a phone

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Tired of making that important phone call, only to be sent off into voicemail oblivion? After all, if my call were that important, you would probably pick up, right? So how about avoiding the problem, by going directly to voicemail, even avoiding making the call in the first place.

Vocaroo is a free service that lets you send voice messages via email, without even using the phone. Just point your web browser to their site, record your message, and send it on its way. Your recipient receives an email with a link in it that takes them back to the Vocaroo site, and lets them play the message. Or if you want to reach a bunch of people, you can even post your message online and hand out the URL for folks to come by and listen to it.

To use Vocaroo you'll need a microphone and headphones or speakers for your computer, as well as having installed a recent version of Flash. Other than that, there's no cost for you to get your message out. There is no guarantee, of course, that anybody will call you back.