Google Voice XMPP Alternative

google-voice-drops-xmpp

I previously wrote a post about my home phone setup and how I moved away from paying Comcast for monthly phone service to a free solution with Google Voice using an Obihai VoIP adapter.

This was possible because Google supported  XMPP,  which enabled connectivity to the Google Voice website without logging in. This solution worked perfectly and served me well for a year and a half. Unfortunately, Google has decided to end support for XMPP on May 15, 2014.

Obihai listed some Voip alternatives on their blog that would support  their adapters after the GV shutoff. I checked out most of the providers on their list. I wanted something that would be easy to configure and inexpensive.

Here are some of the listed services that I could have transitioned to and kept using my Obihai adapter:

I ended up choosing  Vestalink (which is NOT listed above) and opted for the  Residential Lite BYOD plan (bring your own device – since I already have the VoIP adapter). While not free, it’s pretty inexpensive at $25 a year. Compared to the $30 per month I paid Comcast, it’s still a heck of a deal. The plan includes 500 minutes of local and nationwide calling – more than enough for my usage needs. Setting up my adapter was easy as Vestalink has a utility that configures the device automatically. I was up and running in a few minutes without any fuss.

I’ve been forwarding my number for the time being rather than porting my number over from Google right away.  So far the service has been perfect, so I’ll probably start the porting process soon. The porting cost is only $10 which is a bargain.

In a few months, I’ll write a follow up post / review of the Vestalink service and my ongoing experience with it .

—   UPDATE  –  11/21/2014   —

Vestalink is currently running a Black Friday special offering
40% off any plan using the code blackfriday!

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Replace your Comcast home phone service with Google Voice

After getting my latest bill from Comcast and seeing the price I am paying for a home phone I rarely use, I decided to port my Comcast phone number to Google Voice. Well, not exactly that path. Since Google Voice can only accept numbers ported from cell phones at this time, I had to port it to a pay as you go cell phone first, then to GV.

I chose a Verizon prepaid phone that came with 10 minutes of talk time included for a total price of $14.99. It took about 48 hours to port my Comcast number to the Verizon prepaid.Then I ported my number from Verizon to Google Voice, which Charges $20 for the porting service. This was very fast, taking less than 24 hours.

The final step was adding an awesome device to my home network called an OBi which cost me $40 at Amazon. This device connects to your home network, and then you connect your home phone to it which enables your Google Voice number with your home phone. Extremely simple to setup, nearly plug and play.

I’ve had this setup running for nearly two months now and it’s worked flawlessly. The whole setup ran me about $75, a one time cost that will pay for it self in about 3 months of usage. I love the benefit of being able to flag and block telemarketer calls in Google Voice. Most of all, I feel great giving Comcast less of my money.

Update 2/28/2014: Google is turning off support for XMPP in May 2014. That will prevent the phone service above from working. I have a new post that discusses Google Voice XMPP Alternatives.

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Fix Slow Boot with Crucial M4 SSD on Macbook Pro

I just upgraded my Macbook Pro with a larger SSD drive. I stuck with Crucial, upgrading from a M4 256 GB to a  M4 512 GB. After a cloning the drive with SuperDuper, I installed the new, larger drive in my MBP. I immediately noticed it took significantly longer to boot up, specifically, it spent a longer time on the white screen, before the gray apple is shown. I tried a few things for troubleshooting, including setting the startup disk in preferences, but still no joy. Finally, I tried a trick from the old days, zapping the PRAM.  I say old days, because I haven’t zapped PRAM on any of my macs for years. Anyway, that worked perfectly and it’s back to booting quickly again.

Zapping your PRAM is done by pressing your command, option, P and R keys all at once right after power on. Keep them pressed until you hear a second start up chime.

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