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Main Advantages and Disadvantages of Google Voice – A review shortlist

I played around with Google Voice as I am now subscribed to it.  It is quite an impressive system. The shortlist of advantages and disadvantages that I found with the service through my own research are indicated below.


  1. You can make unlimited free calls nationwide and to Canada – the call can be initiated from home-phone or website (call connects to your home/cell phone just like Jajah).  [Steps: 1. Dial your gvoice number. 2. Wait for first ring, dial * and then 4-digit pin code, 3. Dial number to call followed by #).
  2. You can call Europe for 2c per minute or India for 7c/min.  European mobile rate is higher e.g. 23c /min.  Unused balance expires after 6 months of last use.
  3. Calls from people to your Gvoice number can be setup to ring all phone-numbers you designate at the same time (like home + Cell + Cell2).  For example, if you are expecting a call from the doctors office, you do not have to be home – you can still get call on your cell if the Doc office calls your Gvoice number; this happens without having to give them your cell number (!)  You can change this setting anytime/for-any-day and then change it back. 
  4. Selective routing: You can designate which linked phones will ring when each kind of caller calls your gvoice number.
  5. For each linked phone (home, Cell, Cell2), you can setup ‘Do Not Disturb’ time-ranges on a per phone basis for weekdays and weekends, during which that phone will not ring.  You can change this setting anytime.
  6. Call transfer is possible from one number to another.  Press the * on phone you’re talking on, and your other linked phones will ring to from where you can pickup to continue the call – so you can transfer from your cell phone to your home phone or vice versa.
  7. Voicemail to Gvoice number can be listened to and seen on the web (in gvoice & gmail).  Additionally, English voicemails are automatically transcribed to text, so you can scan voicemail quicker.
  8. Free Outbound and Inbound SMS: You can send free SMS to any US phone.  You can also have people send SMS to your gvoice number which can be rerouted to your cell phone OR to your email/gmail.  All settings can be changed anytime and propagate instantly.
  9. There is a historical log of all calls made to your gvoice number which you can see on website.  There is also a log of (free and paid) long distance calls made via your gvoice number.
  10. [For techies] Gvoice provides gadgets which can be embedded into web pages which allow recipients to be called; this may seem like a gateway for spam until you realize that there is recourse to filtering rules that the recipient can use (similar to email) to route calls from web.
  11. [For techies] Gvoice integration with applications on the Android platform and their blackberry app opens up the possibilities to programs making calls which is huge and very appealing to because programs that typically send out emails can now make calls.
  1. There is a $10 charge if you want to change your gvoice number.
  2. When I called a colleague’s gvoice number (rings on his cell) from Skype, sometimes I got a message saying “number out of service” but on trying again it connected.  I wonder if other people have similar experiences.

Final word: The takeaway from my research is that Google Voice bring to common man’s telephony the kind of control and features he has with email.  Actually, in some respects the benefits trump the control possible in email because email is an asynchronous mode of communication while phone is a synchronous mode and the routing/filtering a lay person can do can span multiple phones instead just one email account.  In addition it converges voicemail with email which is really the touchpoint between the synchronous and asynchronous communication.
Due to these reasons, Google Voice is a huge leap forward and will make a big impact in the market.

How to access a remote GIT repo from behind a proxy

I tried this successfully from a git bash in Windows environment.

Add proxy server to gitconfig from the git bash prompt:
    git config –global http.proxy <proxy-server:port>

Replace <proxy-server:port> with IP_address:port or DNS-path:port,
something like

Then try to get a remote repo using HTTP protocol instead of the git protocol.
That is, instead of

  git clone git://


  git clone http://github/somerepo/x.git

A genetic engineering landmark

One of the dream goals of bio-engineering is to help regrow organs and parts of the body that have been lost due to injury or age.  That goal seems within grasp now with reports such as which came out of Japan today.  From the BBC news:

Researchers in Japan have successfully grown replacement teeth in mice, according to a report in PNAS journal. 

Tissue containing the cells and instructions for building a tooth was transplanted into the jawbones of mice. They report that these tissue “germs” regularly grew into fully functional
teeth with a hardness comparable to that of the natural variety.

The work illustrates a technique that could lead to engineered organ replacements, according to the authors.

This is very exciting news.  I also wonder if this will work for tissues like cartilage which is hard to grow back loss of which leads to arthritis which is so common in older people (due to age related wear) and athletes (due to injury).

Is Windows 7 worth moving to?

Microsoft’s much touted and discussed new Windows 7 OS is intriguing to people who have taken a liking to Windows XP.  It sure seems to have some nice interface improvements, but for me two pictures stand out to tell the story. The first is the following

because it pretty much sums up reasons for not using Windows 7 for memory-challenged portable computers.  I would even remark that Microsoft probably doesn’t think Netbooks are a serious market to go after with Windows.  Contrast that with Google which is building an OS primarily aimed for the Netbook market.  I can sense Microsoft bashers (I am NOT one of them) preparing to say they’ve been vindicated also because of Windows 7 performance, which apparently is worse than Windows XP:

Lastly, for all the Type-A go-getter personalities out there, there is not much good news for your blood pressure:

If you care about a quick exit, you do have something to cheer about:

All images are from this CNET news story.  For more details see that story.

Cell phone-camera as an in-the-field screening tool

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a cell phone microscope, or CellScope, that can take color images of microbes like malaria parasites and tuberculosis bacteria labeled with fluorescent markers.

CellScope prototype configured for fluorescent imaging
CellScope prototype configured for fluorescent imaging
This can have some serious uses for health/sanitation, especially in
the third-world where health services are so limited especial in the
rural areas. This can take disease-screening and diagnosis from a lab
to the field and because of the phone’s connectivity possibilities, can
result in images being sent to a remote-located expert for

Fluorescent images of TB bacteria taken by a cell phone microscope
Fluorescent images of TB bacteria taken by the CellScope. (Grad student David Breslauer’s images)

For more info see:

Efficient-information-relay in the (not so distant) future

Barcodes have stood the test of time and the challenge of RFID tags which never couldbe cheap enough to displace barcodes. Finally, the writing seems to be on the wall for barcodes due to a technology breakthrough.  It’s called Bokodes and do a lot more like provide information in multiple layers and based on the perspective (“angle”) that you want to look at it.  The bokode is really a tile of glyphs which can look like this:

The “looking at” has to be done by a camera like one found in mobile phones.  Mobiles devices like iPhones/iPodTouch/Android already have apps that can scan barcodes for you and give you.  Here is how the camera may see a part of the bokode glyph:

Bokode image - only 3mm in real size

Compared to barcodes, Bokodes take the capability a lot further in terms of information on the glyph and in terms of the perspective of the scanner.

Talking of perspective, the glyph can be seen from a distance of 12 feet. That not only allows the code to do part of what RFID was touted to do (with RFIDs own weaknesses), but and can have fabulous repercussions when hooked up with Google Street view. Excerpt from researcher Ankit Mohan’s interview to BBC news:

“Shop and restaurant owners can put these Bokodes outside their stores and as the Google truck is driving down the street it will capture the information in that.”

For example, a restaurant could put menu information inside the tag.

When the data is uploaded to Google Maps, it would automatically be displayed next to the image of the restaurant, said Dr Mohan.