Futurephone Free International Calls

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Free international phonecalls, no hooks. Dial 1-712-858-8883, a number in western Iowa. It works like a phonecard, but with no charges. Then enter the international number you would like to dial (landlines only). I’ve tried it several times– works great, decent call quality.

Take a look at Alec Saunder’s VOIP blog: http://saunderslog.com/2006/10/11/whats-with-the-712-area-code/

The Futurephone business model is possible, according to Saunders, through an antiquated termination-fee schedule in rural Iowa. By routing the calls through Iowa, the company collects taxpayer dollars, and pays minimal charges for the outgoing call connection. The result is likely a fraction of a cent per minute profit for Futurephone. Probably not sustainable in the long run, but clever.

*** Update April 2007 *** Service no longer works. A message has appeared on the Futurephone website saying “This service is no longer available”  http://www.futurephone.com/ .

MINO Wireless International Callback

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 www.minowireless.com

The new service MINO Wireless allows for inexpensive calling from US cell phones to international destinations (about 2 cents per minute).  This cool service uses a small JAVA program downloaded to your cell phone to trigger a callback.  This program sends a few KB’s worth of data over GPRS, which may cost a few cents depending on your mobile plan.  After the callback is triggered, your phone rings, you wait, and the call is patched through to its destination.  This is a more advanced and cheaper form of callback service than competitors callbackworld.com and enlinea.com

This is great for calling foreign numbers FROM the US.   However, it’s no good for Americans travelling abroad with a US cell phone, since they are still “receiving” a call, so are still charged, defeating the purpose entirely.

First Post via Blackberry

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All seems well–Wordpress loads a simple but working version of this site on the Blackberry Browser.  Well done Berkman Center; the new blog server is fantastic.

Google Calendar Bugs Fixed

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Google Calendar has worked out pretty much all of the issues raised in my earlier post. I’m currently in Western Europe, and having no time zone issues. The newly released calendar integration with the Google Home Page http://www.google.com/ig is fantastic. In all, the service is now quite acceptable.

Google Calendar’s Lackluster Launch

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Google Calendar is now online:  http://calendar.google.com


The long awaited, long overdue calendar looks nice, but is lacking many features.  I’m sure that most of these problems will be fixed quickly, but they surely should have been fixed prior to the launch.


1) CSV Import leads to server errors.  These errors, while confusing, don’t seem to stop the import from Outlook.  All import data seems to make it to the calendar anyway.  This seems very unprofessional, and makes one wonder if the process actually worked.


2) Time Zones features don’t work.  All of my events show up three hours late.  All settings (Outlook, Windows, Gmail, Google Calendar) are set to Eastern Time Zone, so this seems to be a Google Calendar programming issue.


3) No calendar data export features.  Sure, it is easy to switch to Google Calendar (ignoring errors), but what about leaving?  What about using both Outlook and Google Calendar?  There are no calendar export features.


4) No integration with RSS / Personalized Home.  “What? I can’t believe this– very disappointing.”  This is currently not integrated with other Google Products at all.


Even though Google Calendar is a great idea, it is currently completely useless to me.  Personally, I’m not wasting any more time with it.  Maybe my expectations were too big, but I’m pretty let down by the lackluster launch of this poor service.

Send Future Reminders to Yourself

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Futureme.org allows you to write an email today and specify a date in the future on which it will be sent.  This is perfect to remind yourself about library due dates, trial membership cancellations, and any other easy to forget deadlines. 


This simple, useful website has been a life-saver for me in a number of forgetful situations over the past few years.


www.futureme.org

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