Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Invites for private betas

A few weeks ago, I talked about GrandCentral. I mentioned that I had some invites for the service, as they had gone to that method for new accounts because of the Google acquisition. I ran out of invites for the service, and even after posting that I had ran out, I still have requests for invites.

The cool thing is, there is a new site that will take care of you. It's called InviteShare. Sign up for an account there, select what website you want an account with, and eventually someone will send you an invite. Once you have your account, you would then return the favor and send invites to other people waiting on the list. If people give back, there should be virtually an unlimited number of invites available.

Another cool thing is that you can find out about other sites that are in the "invite only" status. I'll be checking out other sites to see what they are about. And if I like them, or have something to say about them, you'll be seeing it here.

SunRocket runs out of fuel and crashes a miserable death!

I'm sure everyone, by now, has heard about SunRocket, the VoIP company that decided to shutdown without ANY warning. I have had phone service with SunRocket for a little over 2 years now, and have loved it. There was very little downtime. Call quality was great. And when it wasn't, it was probably because my son was downloading something at the time.


So, on Monday July 16th, my phone died. I had heard that SunRocket was having troubles, but I figured we'd be warned if they were about to be shutdown or anything. But, that didn't happen. Phone service just died with no warning. The next day, a new company mysteriously appeared called Teleblend. It promised to offer the exact features of SunRocket, and for a lower cost. It has been suspected that the original owners of SunRocket were behind it, as Teleblend seems to have a lot of information about SunRocket customers.


Other VoIP companies were inundated with new account requests. Most people seem to be going to ViaTalk.com. I even signed up for an account on the 19th. But then people were complaining that it was taking too long, and people started to cancel the account. SunRocket has also come out with their choices for replacements, Packet8.com and Teleblend.


Another company I looked at was Allo.com. I was excitied about what they had to offer. They had all of the features I wanted, and even had Caller ID Spoofing available. For the longest time, I have been trying to get people to start using my GrandCentral number instead of my SunRocket number. Part of the problem is when we call people. The caller ID is displaying my SunRocket number. If my caller ID were displaying my GrandCentral number, more and more people would actually start using it. So, having the ability to use the caller ID spoofing feature in Allo.com was very appealing. And, it was even cheaper than I was paying for SunRocket. BUT... When I tried to sign up, the sign up page stated that it was down for maintenance. After checking again the next day, I got onto their online chat and found out that they were also going to be shutting down on July 31st. Two VoIP compaines in one week are down the drain. This doesn't make be feel good about sticking with VoIP.


As I said earlier, I signed up with ViaTalk after I found out about Allo not being around anymore. I expected it to go pretty quick since I was going to use the SunRocket gizmo,which is the device that is used to create the dial tone for a regular phone. It, technically speaking, should be fairly automated and fairly easy to do. But knowing that they were being swamped for lots of SunRocket customers, I thought it may take a day, 2 at the worst. But here it is, the 25th, and as of this morning, still no account. During all this time, I kept hearing about another company called NuVio. My understanding is that they primarily are a business VoIP provider. So, they should know something about having good call quality. And, probably have decent customer service. They also claim to be profitable. They had just started residential service, and were offering a deal for SunRocket customers. Service, they promised, would be up and running within 24 hours, as they would be able to use the SunRocket gizmo.


Because I was tired of waiting, I decided to send an email to ViaTalk to cancel my order, and to sign up with NuVio. Literally within minutes, I had phone service up and running under NuVio. It was exactly what I was expecting from ViaTalk. But then, 3 hours later, I had my account created on ViaTalk. I think I'll stick with NuVio anyway. They don't exactly have Caller ID spoofing, but I can change the name of the outgoing caller ID, and it appears that I can even have the number blocked. I could, possibly, change the name to my GrandCentral number. I'll have to play with that and see what happens.


It's been an interesting week trying to figure out what is going on, trying to find another provider that is going to stick around for a while, and trying to get everything up and running before I lose the ability to transfer my current number to my new account. Hopefully things will calm down now.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

GrandCentral invitations available

Update 2: I'm still receiving requests for invites. I still do not have anymore. Please have a look at this post for more information about how to get an invite.

I've been wanting to talk about GrandCentral for sometime now. But just haven't had a chance to do it. But now that they have been purchased by Google, I figure I better say something.

GrandCentral is a really cool way to manage your phones. The idea is, you get one number that you give out to everyone. Then, depending on who is calling, you can choose to have your cell phone, home phone, work phone, or whatever, ring. All at the same time. Or, you can have it ring just your cell phone. Or just go straight to voice mail. It even has the option of letting you listen in on the recording of the voice mail so that you can choose to break in and accept the call, or not. And there are many, many more features.

With all of that, you may be asking yourself how much this service costs. Well, it's available for the introductory price of ZERO dollars. That's right, GrandCentral is free. Everything is free. And, even after they are out of beta, most of the features will continue to be free, with some features having a minimal monthly charge.

And what is interesting is that Google has acquired them now. So, who knows what they have planned for it. But I can only be excited about it!

While Google is taking over, they have moved to an invite system for new accounts. If you'd like an invite, email me at [email protected] or post a comment with your email address and I'll get one out to you. I have 5 available right now, and I'm not sure if I'll have anymore after that. We'll see after I send a couple.

Update: I'm currently out of invites. When I get more, I'll post another message.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Pownce first impressions

Well, so far, I like Pownce. It's a lot like Twitter in that you can post messages about whatever you are doing at the time. But you can do more. You can post links, you can post files, you can send private messages, either individually or to your group of friends. There has been talk out there about how much they hate Pownce. I'm really surprised about this. They even call Pownce nothing more than an FTP program.

But I like it. I like that it has a program that can be installed locally to watch things for you and allow you to post messages. I like that it's more broad than Twitter. Twitter just wants you to answer the question "what are you doing right now." But what if I don't want to post that, but instead want to post a cool link you just found? People ignore the Twitter question, but it's still kind of limiting. Especially with a 140 character limit to the messages. Pownce doesn't seem to have that low of a limit on their posts.

There is also the commenting system. Comments, or replies, can be posted on any of the messages. Twitter can't do that.

There is also the friend system. You can be a friend or a fan of someone. For instance, I have Leo Leporte as a fan. When I added him to my list, it said that he would receive a message asking if we were friends, and if so, he would add me to his list. At that point, we're friends. But if he (and I'm sure he'll choose this) tells the system that we're not friends, I'll just be a lowly fan. I will be notified of his public posts, but he will not be notified of my posts.

I think Pownce beats Twitter. But not sure if it beats Jaiku. More on that in the next post.

I'm now pownceing!

The good folks at mashable.com are doing an unlimited pownce invite campaign where you post a comment asking for an invite and people with invites give them away. The idea is that once you get an invite and create your account, you use the 6 invites in your account on someone else who has posted an invite request. So, esstentially, you have unlimited invites available, if everyone uses at least one of their invites in return. It is a great idea.

I'll give it a run through and get back to posting.

If anyone is interested, my pownce address is http://www.pownce.com/rmorgan.