Author Archives: Sue Walsh

About Sue Walsh

Sue Walsh is a technical writer and editor at Phone.com, where she creates simple instructions for our soon-to-be-released API. Sue likes fluid words like superfluous, isthmus and flibbertigibbet, and her favorite flavor of ice cream is pistachio.

At Phone.com, We Know Our Onions!

by Sue Walsh

Feeding America San Diego Logo

Last week, a group from Phone.com volunteered at Feeding America San Diego. During our session, we gleaned 2,800 pounds of onions and apples, sorting the good ones from the bad and boxing them for distribution to San Diego area schools.

Feeding America’s School Pantry program gives low-income families the chance to “shop” for free fruit, vegetables and staple foods when they bring their kids to school.

Our volunteers love to ham it up!

It’s a good thing onions only make you cry once they are cut because we handled a lot of them! Phone.commers now know all about soft spots and mold and gashes on veggies. Our volunteers saw some pretty nasty-looking onions and it was great to know that, because of our efforts, families would be getting only the good stuff.

Sorting the good from the bad

A Few Quick Facts

  • One in six people in San Diego—one in four kids—don’t have enough food to eat
  • Feeding America feeds 56,000 people per week in the greater San Diego area
  • When you donate one dollar to FASD, they turn it into six dollars’ worth of food for the hungry. Not a bad return!

To create even more value, Feeding America donates the bad veggies that we discarded during our gleaning session to a group that makes compost for local growers and farmers. Phone.com loves working with community groups that do so much good, and we look forward to volunteering at FASD throughout the year.

For more info, follow Feeding America San Diego on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for news and events.

Reaching for VoIP: Grasping the Benefits, Avoiding the Obstacles

by Sue Walsh

Caller using mobile phoneVoice Over IP is no longer the new kid on the block. Emerging in the seventies, coming of age in the eighties and nineties, VoIP has matured as a feature-rich, wallet-friendly alternative to the wired services that were the backbone of the businesses of our parents’ and grandparents’ generations.

Old-fashioned phone service is a funny thing: As a business owner, you plug a traditional phone into the wall socket and place it on your new employee’s desk. Apart from paying the bill every month, you might not think about it much after that. Phone service on the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is just so straightforward and established, so plug ‘n play.

Yet a recent report by Software Advice, a free online service that offers VoIP system reviews, shows that 25 percent of the business owners they surveyed in 2014, who are currently using PSTN, would consider switching to VoIP. The reasons are pretty compelling.

VoIP is less expensive. Basic phone service, with no commitment or contract, costs as little as $9.99 with Phone.com. With our service, extensions are unlimited, features are plentiful, support is free, and you only pay for the phone numbers you need.

VoIP scales really well. And so easily! Need to add extensions quickly to support seasonal staff? No problem. Adding a brand new department to your business? No need to install additional trunk lines or guess at future capacity. VoIP service is truly elastic, growing or shrinking to meet your needs instantly and exactly.

VoIP is loaded with features. Local, toll-free and international numbers. Menus, queues and unlimited extensions. Forwarding, scheduling, faxing and SMS. Call management, voicemail, text-to-speech and voice-to-text. You can add, tweak and remove features as needed, and almost all of Phone.com’s features are included in your basic account.

VoIP is crazy-flexible and mobile friendly. Moving to a new location no longer means running a whole lot of new wiring or waiting for a phone technician to come out to your office. Your phone numbers and service simply move with you. It really is a new kind of plug ‘n play! And while PSTN might play nicely with your desk phone and fax machine, VoIP can extend phone, fax and SMS services to all of your wired, desktop and mobile devices, regardless of where you are located or traveling at the time. Think of it in terms of party games: If PSTN is really good at playing Simon Says, it’s crazy cousin VoIP is just outstanding at playing Twister!

So Why Aren’t Businesses Moving to VoIP Faster?

Software Advice’s report PSTN User Perspectives on IP Communications shows the key reasons business users are thinking about shifting to VoIP. At the top of the list? Price, mobile integration, features and scalability.

Primary Draws of VoIP - Image by Software Advice

Primary Draws of VoIP for PSTN Users (Source: Software Advice)

While it’s clear that business owners on PSTN are intrigued by all of these benefits, the idea that Internet-based VoIP services are not as reliable as legacy wired PSTN networks, especially in disaster and emergency situations, still lingers. If your connection goes down, so does your phone service, right?

Yes and no. VoIP systems designed to deal with downtime are available. Hosted solutions, like Phone.com, typically offer emergency routing to mobile devices. Our call-handling rules can redirect your incoming calls to a pre-set mobile number if connectivity to your primary VoIP device is disrupted. As long as you set those rules on your account, your calls will route to a mobile number.

We should also note that there are catastrophic disasters that will disrupt any phone service, regardless of whether it’s VoIP or hard wired. As business communications evolve, it makes sense to design your phone networks to spread connectivity and redundancy across all of your physical, IP and cellular networks.

The other reason business owners cite for not switching to VoIP is that of call quality. First, if you haven’t experienced a phone call using HD (High Definition) Voice, you will be amazed at the quality and clarity of your conversation!

According to our support team, occasional call quality issues can often be attributed to the speed and performance of your Internet connection. When our customers have consistent, adequate Internet connectivity, audio quality is not usually a problem. If, as a VoIP user, you’re experiencing degraded audio, we strongly suggest you check the performance of your Internet connection. Your ISP and VoIP provider should have tools to measure whether your connection is robust enough to support VoIP service.

If quality is a concern on calls forwarded to your cell phone, there are a number of variables at work, from the quality of your cell phone connection to the quality of the connection between Phone.com and your carrier. Our fantastic customer service team has the tools to help determine where the issue lies!

By taking these steps, businesses can ensure the reliability and quality they’ve come to appreciate with PSTN service, along with the array of services, benefits and savings offered by VoIP. Price, mobile integration, advanced features and easy scaling. It’s yours for the taking!

Friendship and Feasting! Happy Holidays from Phone.com

by Sue Walsh

Diwali candle, Phone.com international holiday potluck

With our Phone.com team hailing from every corner of the globe, our international holiday potluck last Friday was truly spectacular. Sweet plantains from Nigeria, Chutney fish in banana leaves from India, scrumptious Swedish meat balls and traditional English mince pies to name just a few. Needless to say, we did not go hungry!

Food at the Phone.com international holiday potluck

My plate was laden with latkes and blintzes, lumpia and barfis, and they were all delicious! We dimmed the lights and lit candles, wished each other cheers, l’chaim and salud, and spent the afternoon celebrating a year of hard work and friendship.Phone.com team enjoy the holiday potluck

As the year draws to a close, we wish our customers a very happy holiday season, and a peaceful, successful year in 2015.

This is my wish for you: peace of mind, prosperity through the year, happiness that multiplies, health for you and yours, fun around every corner, energy to chase your dreams, joy to fill your holidays!

— American peace activist D.M. Dellinger

Why Generation Y Won’t Answer Your Voice Messages

by Sue Walsh



Why Gen Y'ers won't answer your voice messagesDo you dislike leaving voice messages for friends and colleagues?

You’re not alone, especially if you’re between the ages of 18 and 34. Research shows that millennials, also known as Generation Y, shy away from leaving voicemail, in favor of texting or using services like Facebook Messenger and Snapchat.

Recent articles in the New York Times and on NPR’s All Things Considered suggest that twenty-somethings, raised in a text-friendly culture with unlimited phone access to their friends, just don’t like waiting for the robotic voice instructions to end or that annoying beep. On average, Gen Yers send up to 60 text messages a day. They find texting more immediate and satisfying, and trust it more.

While millennials have been dubbed the “Me” generation, when it comes to messaging it seems more a matter of pragmatism than entitlement. Texting is simply faster and easier than leaving a message. A “Call me!” text will likely be answered more quickly than a voice message buried on your phone or in your Inbox. And millennials will often call the number that appears on a voicemail notification before listening to the full message. Again, they like to save time.

Growing up with caller ID, millennials may also assume that if a workmate sees their caller name and chooses not to pick up, they do not want to answer. Not answering can seem like a rejection, and having to leave a voice message can feel, to use a Gen Y-ism, lame.

Finally, admit it, you might teach or sell or coach for a living, but we all feel a bit tongue-tied when we leave a voice message. A text message is easily edited.

All in favor of scrapping voicemail shout “yeah!” Unfortunately, most of us work in businesses that span at least a couple generations of workers. And our parents and grandparents still love the sound of our voices on their answering services. Voicemail may one day go the way of the telegram, but until then, we’ll still need to leave a message after the beep from time to time.

A few tips for leaving your voice message? Sit up tall and take a deep breath before beginning. Then say who is calling and leave a short, detailed and friendly message with a smile.

Finally, if you just don’t want to have to log in and listen to all those messages sequentially, use a service like Phone.com’s voicemail-to-text, which sends voice messages to your email or phone to read over a latte!

The Robots are Coming! Video Conferencing in the Twenty-first Century

by Sue Walsh

 

I_Robot_-_RunaroundAs we move towards the year 2020, I’m wondering: Where are those time-saving robots that sci-fi writers and cartoonists promised us in the 1950s? Robots are running our production lines and powering our data centers, yet I’m still mowing the lawn and folding laundry!

Isaac Asimov dreamed of a world where bots not only did the menial tasks we disdain, but were capable of discernment and independent action, being governed by the Three Laws of Robotics:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Earlier this year, iRobot and Cisco teamed to release the kind of robot Asimov may have seen in his mind’s eye. The Ava 500 Video Collaboration Robot is an roving bot that can take your place at meeting. Your physical place that is—you’ll still need to attend by video conference, displayed on Ava’s screen.

The Ava 500 is a highly evolved VOIP-based video-conferencing unit, one that can move to a specified meeting point and give you a physical presence at the boardroom table, even when you’re 500 or a thousand miles away. You control Ava 500 via an app on your iPad or iPhone. Take a look!

Note how Ava uses visual sensors to move around, avoiding bumping into walls, furniture and, yes, human beings! Ava 500, in fact, does an outstanding job of adhering to Asimov’s Three Laws—not injuring others, following orders, and protecting its own … being?

What we love about the Ava 500 is how close it comes to fulfilling the kind of intelligent function that Asimov and others imagined. That and the fact that it means we don’t have to drive or fly to attend far-away meetings. Fewer on-site meetings? Less travel? I’ll take that over wanting a robot to fold my laundry any day!