This week I'm on the road at SNW in Orlando and then to speak at Dell's Tech Summit internal event leading into Dell World in Austin. During all the chaos of interplanetary travel, I rely heavily on Google Voice and its ability to track me down like a dog. When I discovered yesterday that my cell phone had gone among the missing, Google Voice once again came through for me.
I've used follow-me services for years to make it easy for people to reach me wherever I might be. When I was a consultant and working at different clients on a daily basis, I discovered the benefit of having one phone number that would always reach me, regardless of where I was.
Over the years I've used several different services, from the original, and now long-defunct, AT&T follow-me 500 number, to slick interactive voice response systems like Wildfire and Portico. When GrandCentral started offering free service I joined up early and rode through the transition to Google Voice. While I miss being able to say "return the call" and being automatically connected to the person that left the voice mail I was listening to, I don't miss the $60 to 100 a month I used to pay for such a cool service.
I know those of you young enough for your primary definition of phone to be "something I carry in my pocket to run apps on" are wondering why I kvell over Google Voice. If I just gave people my cell number, they could always call me.
The answer, young friends, is in the story of the long business trip and lost cell phone. Somewhere between when my plane touched down in Orlando, when I remember turning my phone on, and lunch at the SNW hotel bar (I am a journalist--bars are our natural habitat, you know) my phone disappeared. Ordinarily, that would have made me incommunicado for several very busy days as I got a replacement and had my number assigned to it.
Instead I hopped in a rental car (thank you, Stephen, for the loan), drove to the nearest 7-Eleven and paid $10.63 with tax for a Tracphone. I then logged into the Google Voice site and changed my follow-me settings to use the new phone. Elapsed time: 30 minutes. Total cost: $21, including the extra minutes.
Ain't technology wonderful?