Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

How to forward your calls from the US to anywhere in the world via Google Voice and Skype.

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

It’s pretty easy to stay connected to your friends and family from the US if you live or travel outside of the US. With the following services you can have one phone number that will reach you anywhere in the world. What you’ll need:

1. Google Voice – Free
2. Skype Online Number – $18 for 3 Months / $60 for a year
3. Local SIM card wherever you are – Prices vary
4. A US based phone (Just to do the initial setup)

The first thing you need to do is sign up for a google voice account. You’ll need to do this at http://voice.google.com The important thing is that you’ll need to do it either while you’re in the US or have a US IP address. Another requirement for google voice is a current and active US based phone number.

You can pick phone numbers in nearly any area code you like. I chose to pick an area code that was in my last locale. That way friends who knew your last number don’t think too much about calling or texting you. It also helps with things such as bank accounts, credit cards and talking to Business Contacts. Giving them a phone number in the same area code as where your accounts are at make it easier to talk to people and not have to explain to them they need to call an international number to talk to you. Also, if you have your mail delivered to somewhere in that area code still, even better.

When signing up for Google Voice, they’ll ask you to give them a phone number to forward to. You should give them your US based phone number at this point. Just pick up the phone when they call; to verify it and enter in the confirmation code.

Next, sign up for a skype account. These can be made at http://www.skype.com While you’re there you’ll need to get a Skype Online number. This is a phone number that when called, will forward to whatever phone number you want it to forward to anywhere in the world.

Now, you may ask, why do I need a google voice account if I’m paying for a Skype online number as well? That is a great question. The reason is, in the event that you go back to visit the US or move back there, you don’t want to have to continue paying Skype to forward your calls. You also don’t want to have to pay Skype rates to send SMS messages. (currently .11c each message) And, if you disable or disconnect your skype online number, you don’t want to have to tell your friends and family new phone numbers to reach you at every few months when you sign up for a new Skype Online number. Eventually they’ll just stop calling you out of frustration.

Now here’s the tricky part.

Now that you have a google voice account and a Skype Online number. You’ll need to tie those two accounts together. First thing you’ll need to do is add a phone number to your Skype Online account that Skype can forward to. At this point you can use the same number that you are forwarding your google voice calls to. Have Skype verify that number. Then have a friend call your Skype Online number to verify that it is forwarding to your phone correctly.

Next, go into your google voice settings and add a new fowarding phone number. This should be your Skype Online number. When google calls to verify that phone number this series of events will happen:

1. Google calls your Skype Online number
2. Skype Online forwards you the Verification call from Google to the number you provided Skype.
3. Your phone will ring and within a few seconds a verification prompt from google will ask you to verify the call
4. Enter in the verification code.

Now, you’ve got your two accounts linked up. To make it even more seamless, you can go into the Caller ID portion of Skype and enter your Google Voice Number. That way you can use skype to call your friends and family and they will know that it’s you who is calling them. Next up you’ll need to link up your foreign phone number.

Say you go to Thailand. The country code there is +66. When you arrive in Thailand, you’ll get a Local SIM card and put it into your “unlocked” phone. Once you get your local phone number, you’ll need to login to Google Voice and make sure that you’re only forwarding to your Skype Online number. Then you’ll want to login to Skype. Once you login, go to the “Call Forwarding” Tab. If you have your US phone number here still, you’ll want to remove it. Then this is where you’ll enter your Thai Phone number. Make sure you enter it with the country code and remove any zero prefixes. Your phone number may be

02-2134567
But with Skype you should enter it as:
+66-2-2134567

Now, when someone calls your US Google Voice number, it will do all the following for you seamlessly:

1. Your friend calls your Google Voice Number
2. Google Voice Forwards the call to Skype Online
3. Skype Online forwards the call to Thailand
4. You pick up the phone and pay the skype rate for the phone call.
5. Your friend pays as if it is a local call to them.

Now if your friend sends you a SMS or Text message to your google voice number. You can receive these in realtime as well. To do this, you’ll need a smartphone, a Local Data Plan and the google voice app on either Android or the App Store. Just enable push notifications and when they send you a message you’ll receive it right away and you can respond just as quickly.  If you don’t have a data plan you can always just wait till you have wifi access to see your messages or login to the Google Voice home page and see and respond to messages from a computer.

Next, when you travel to another country, you’ll want to make sure you repeat the same steps above as the example with Thailand.  But you’ll want to add an additional step. You’ll want to go into the Skype Forwarding panel and remove the older forwarding number from the previous countries you travelled to. The reason this is important is because Skype will continue to forward to any phone you have listed. If someone has gotten your recycled SIM card they may pick up the call before your new phone number in Indonesia even rings. You wouldn’t even know that you missed a call till your angry friend or banker e-mails you asking why you’re phone is now going to someone who doesn’t even speak english. It’s also important that you remove your US phone number from the list of forwarding phone numbers in Skype. If you’re still forwarding to your US phone number, the same thing might be happening there. But instead of going to a Thai person, the calls may be going straight to your voicemail and you’ll have no way to check them.

Now, when you go back to the US to visit or to move back. You’ll need to adjust a couple of settings as well. The first thing you’ll need to do is, go to a local cell phone store and get a Cell phone. Then, login to Google Voice and add the new phone as a forwarding number. Next, you’ll want to “uncheck” but not remove the SkypeOnline number. What this will do is:

1. All your friends that have your Google Voice Number can now still call the same number they’ve been calling you for the whole while you were traveling or living overseas.
2. They can send you SMS messages to the same Google Voice Number as before
3. Banks and Credit card companies and Business Contacts will still be able to reach your phone number
4. You’ve now cut out Skype as the middle man and no longer have to pay any SkypeOut rates for your calls. (You’ll still have the Skype Online number though)

Then, when you’re ready to go traveling again, just login to Skype. Add your new phone numbers for whatever country you’re in. And Login to Google Voice and remove any temporary phone numbers there and re-enable your Skype Online connection. Another tip I have is to disable “Call Screening” on Google voice. This adds a few extra seconds to every call and may be enough to make all your calls go to Voicemail with this setup. With all the extra hops that your calls go through, every second counts.

With this setup, I find it makes communicating with your friends and family a lot easier. They no longer have to think twice about calling you. You end up paying a little more per year, but building and maintaining relationships with your loved ones is something you can’t really put a price on.

 

What happened in the US?

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

I’ve been gone for nearly two years now. And things just seem to be getting worse and worse over there. California is bankrupt, banks are failing, People are getting I.O.U.s from the government. GM is no longer around. Then I heard about this story.

http://consumerist.com/5358416/philadelphia-to-close-all-public-libraries-october-2nd

The Philadelphia library is closing down. They don’t have enough money to run it. Seriously? Libraries? What’s next public schools for our children? Investing in education and infrastructure is investing in yourself and the future. After living in Singapore for the last two years I now see how an efficient city/country can be. Please fix it, compromises need to be made. It won’t be easy. But, do it for the kids.

Luggage update day 5

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Looks like I lucked out. I’ve had friends leave wallets and phones behind in taxis and have them returned. No such luck for me.

Elevators suck.

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

So I went over to this HDB flat today to buy a used air conditioner. That’s when I really realized that a great number of elevators suck in Singapore. Actually, technically, the elevators don’t suck. It’s the elevator system that sucks in HDBs. In older HDB flats the elevator system only stops on certain floors.

In this building, the stops were on the 1st, 6th and 10th floor. So, if you lived on the 3rd, 4th or 8th floor you have to take the lift two extra stories up and walk down two flights of stairs or start two stories lower and walk up two flights of stairs.

I believe this system was put in place so that if you lived on one of those odd floors, your unit is bigger. But, after carrying a portable air conditioning unit up a flight of stairs. I’ll take the elevator over the smidgen of extra space anyday.

Foot reflexology or as I’d like to call it – reflex-owww-agie

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

Foot massages are very common and popular all over the world. But, I’m finding that I am not a big fan of some of them. Chinese reflexology being the biggest one. It seems to me that the whole purpose of reflexology is to inflict the maximum amount of pain while leaving the least evidence of said infliction. I swear that at the end of a reflexology session my feet and legs will be covered in bruises. But, surprisingly, they are bare.

To be honest, a lot of people I talk to like and enjoy it. Though they will admit to it being painful part of the time as well. The pain, according to chinese medicine, is related to the overall health of different regions of your body. With different nerve endings in your foot representing your liver or your lungs or your back, ect. The more pain you feel, the worse the condition of that region.

With that in mind, my whole body must be broken. Because the whole process is painful. It also doesn’t help that the masseuse gives me these looks of contempt. I swear that he’s thinking what a wimp every time my body flinches. But how can I help it? If every press of his knuckes into the bones of my feet feel like he’s shoving a stack of needles into my body?

I’m going to have to reevaluate if I’m ever going to do this again.

I blame Entourage

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

I have been severly slacking with posting stuff on my blog lately. An I blame it entirely on Entourage.

Before I left for the US last month, I decided to load my iPhone up with episodes of the tv series. Hoping that it would help me pass the time while I was transiting on planes. It turned into an addiction though. I’ve managed to condense five seasons of the show into a little over a month.

Now, instead of blogging on my phone, I’ve been watching TV. At least now I’m done with the series. But, the new season of television is starting up now. So, I’ll probably be on my Slingbox a bunch now instead. 😉

2009

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Well, it’s been a year exactly now. I must say, it’s been an adventure. In the past year I’ve been to so many places, seen so many things, and met so many people.

The last few weeks of 2008 were some of the best times as well. I met my nephew for the first time. He’s a smiling, drooling, bobble-headed babe magnet. 😉 I think he takes after me. I also went back to the states for the first time. This has made me realize truly that the thing I miss most about the US is not the food, or weather, or cheap cars or parking; it’s my friends and family. I’m slowly building up a network of friends out here, but it’s in addition to my pervious network. Not in replace of.

Holy Crap. I have an accent.

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Water.

Water.

Say it with me.
Outloud.
Don’t be shy.
Listen to yourself.

Water.

Now say “Wadder”
Wadder.

Sounds the same doesn’t it?

I never noticed it before. I’ve always known it. But, I have an accent. People from the US, specifically California, pronounce t’s as d’s in certain words. Utter, daughter, shutter, they all sound like Udder, daughder, shudder. Weird isn’t it?

I had always thought the British strange because of the way they always over pronounced the t’s in water : wah-ter. Now I just realized it’s because I don’t pronounce the T at all.

I voted today.

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

I know it’s still over a month out. But, I voted today. I sent in my absentee ballot from a hawker center. I urge all of you to do the same.

iPod Touch to iPhone application data transfer.

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

It seems that though the iPhone and iPod touch are very similar, they are considered different pieces of hardware to iTunes. I’ve had my iPod touch for a few months now and have been merrily installing and running apps from the Apple app store. As such, I’ve got a lot of data from those apps on my touch. Such as:

Game Saves
Wallet information
Shopping lists
Custom Conversion tables

I found out the hard way that when you sync an iPhone to iTunes it’ll install all the same apps, but won’t transfer the application data. I called Apple support only to have that fear confirmed.

What I managed to hack together and stumple upon is a loophole, I think. Here are the steps I did to get my application data from my iPod Touch to my new 3G iPhone.

1. Backup iPod Touch on iTunes
2. Setup new iPhone on iTunes on the same computer
3. Make sure all the same apps are installed on the new iPhone that were on the iPod Touch
4. Make a backup of the new iPhone with all the apps
5. Restore iPhone to factory default
6. Restore iPhone with iPod Touch Backup
7. Next time you Sync again, the iPhone will ask you which backup to Restore from, once it realizes that the iPod Touch restore is not correct.
8. Restore from the iPhone backup.

You should now have your iPhone with all the apps and all the application data from your iPod Touch.
There are a few reasons I think this worked for me.
1. The iPhone has all the same functions the iPod Touch has and more.
2. I have a suspicion that when you do a restore from a backup when you already have the Application and it’s data (my iPod Touch backup), It wipes the applications but keeps the data if the backup you’re restoring from has no data to write over it (the fresh iPhone backup from the initial sync).
3. I am installing the same applications.
4. I am installing the same same application versions.
5. I am on the same computer.
6. I am using the same firmware for both the iPod Touch and iPhone.

Obviously, you do this at your own risk. Installing firmware from one device to another is always a very dangerous thing to do.

My setup

Powerbook G4 1.25GHz
iPod Touch 8GB Firmware 2.02
iPhone 3G 16GB Firmware 2.02
iTunes 7.7