Check out my 2nd article on Chris Pirillo’s

imageI’ve been asked by Chris Pirillo to write some articles for his web site This is my second article.  It describes how to save money and protect yourself online when making purchases with a credit card.

Save Money and Protect Yourself with Your Online Purchases

If you haven’t heard of Chris Pirillo (and shame on you, if you’re a techie and haven’t), he used to host the TV show “Call for Help” on TechTV and lots of other cool stuff. You can follow him on Google+ here:

Follow Chris Pirillo on Google+

For that matter, you can follow ME on Google+ here:

Follow ME on Google+

I’ll be writing some more for, so check back here and I’ll post the links as they’re posted. I’ll also be announcing them on Google+.

Check out my article on Chris Pirillo’s

imageI’ve been asked by Chris Pirillo to write some articles for his web site  My first article is how to choose the right kind of light bulbs to save the most money, taking just about all variables that affect your expenses into account.

How to Save Money with the Best Light Bulb

If you haven’t heard of Chris Pirillo (and shame on you, if you’re a techie and haven’t), he used to host the TV show “Call for Help” on TechTV and lots of other cool stuff.  You can follow him on Google+ here:

Follow Chris Pirillo on Google+

For that matter, you can follow ME on Google+ here:

Follow ME on Google+

I’ll be writing some more for, so check back here and I’ll post the links as they’re posted.  I’ll also be announcing them on Google+.

Free Voice calls from your cell phone


imageClick here to follow me on Google+.

If you’re tired of outrageous fees for minutes on your cell phone, read on, I can tell you how to get you on your carrier’s cheapest plan and get unlimited minutes.  Read on…


Let me clarify:  After this, you’ll STILL have to pay a monthly fee to your cell phone provider.  This article instructs you how to make calls without using up your plans’ minutes!  Everyone clear on that?  Good.  Now, let’s get started!

What you’ll need:

Option 1:

  • A cell phone with the minimum plan that supports a “friends and family” or “faves” plan that let’s you add 1 or more phone numbers as always free calls to or from that (or those) number(s).
  • A free Google Voice account with a free telephone number.

Option 2 (doesn’t require friends and family plan):



Instructions if you don’t have an Android or an iPhone (skip ahead to the “Android or iPhone” instructions if you have an Android phone):

Regular cell phone (NOT an Android and NOT an iPhone) (least preferable, but this still works):

  1. Call your cell phone service provider (Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, etc…) and ask them if they have a “friends and family” type service (different carriers call it different things.  Verizon calls it “friends and family”, T-Mobile calls it “My Faves”, and others may have different names and not all of them have it).  This service lets you set up one or more telephone numbers as always free calls.  This is so you can add your Mom or whomever you call most and those calls (either incoming or outgoing) will never use up your bank of allowed minutes.
    1. If you cell provider doesn’t offer this, stop now because this won’t work for you, unless you upgrade to an Android phone, then you can skip to the “Android Only Phone” instructions below.
    2. If your provider DOES offer this, you’ll need to add your Google Voice number to the plan (continue reading these steps for instructions on acquiring a free Google Voice number).
  2. Go to and either log into it with your existing Google account (if you have a GMail account, you have one) or create a new one.
  3. You’ll be prompted for a new phone number.  Follow the instructions and pick a phone number in the area code you prefer and pick a number you like.  If you have family in a different area code than your cell phone currently is, maybe choose a number in THEIR area code so they can call you free of charge to THEM.
  4. You will be prompted to have calls to that number forwarded to your cell phone.  Go ahead and enter your cell phone number.
    1. When prompted if you want to use Google Voice to replace your carrier’s voice-mail, I recommend to do this, but it’s not necessary for this free calls tutorial.
  5. Now, configure GV (Google Voice) to show YOUR Google Voice # instead of the incoming caller’s caller ID (this makes all incoming calls FREE via your “Friends and Family plan”)
    1. Click on the gears icon menu in the upper right of the web page (not your Browser’s wrench menu, which on Chrome, is just above the GV gears menu) and choose “Voice settings”.
      1. image
    2. Click the “Calls” tab, then select “Display my Google Voice number” by “Caller ID (incoming)”, then check the global spam filter, then click “Save changes”:
      1. image
      2. The other settings can be set to anything you like.
  6. Set you PIN (Personal Identification Number):
    1. Click on the “Voicemail & Text” tab.
    2. By the “Voicemail PIN” label, enter your PIN in both fields.
    3. Click “Save changes”
      1. image
  7. Now, call your cell phone provider (Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, etc…) and add your new Google Voice number to your “Friends and Family” plan (or the equivalent plan with your carrier).  Note that you MAY have to upgrade to a more expensive plan to get this if you’re on T-Mobile’s cheapest plan.  This will NOT be worth it if you never go over your minutes.  If you’d LIKE to have more minutes and not worry about it, then upgrading might be a good option.  You’ll have to weigh it yourself.
    1. I recommend you do NOT tell them that this is your Google voice number.  If they ask for a name to be associate with the number, just say “Home” or make something up.  That name is just for your reference later so you know who that number’s for.  Just don’t say “Google Voice”!
  8. Tell everyone you’ve changed your cell phone #.  Give them your new Google Voice #.
  9. When you make outgoing calls:
    1. Call your Google Voice # (this is necessary so that your carrier sees this outgoing call as one going to one of your “Friends and Family” numbers, making it a FREE CALL.
    2. When you hear the v-mail greeting, dial *.
    3. Enter your PIN (the one you created in step 6 above).
      1. Next, if you have new voicemail messages, you’ll have to either listen to them or hit 7 on each to mark as “read” (you can listen to them later via your phone or with your web browser).
    4. Enter 2 to place a call, then follow the instructions.

This, obviously, adds extra steps and time to making outgoing calls, BUT THEY’RE FREE!  For incoming calls, you lose the caller ID information because it’ll always show your Google Voice #, BUT THEY’RE FREE!


Android or iPhone

If you have an Android or iPhone, this next set of instructions works better than the instructions above for non smartphones.  There’s an even better option for Android only phones.  For that, skip ahead to the “Android Only” section.

Follow instructions 1-8 above, but forget about step #9 above.  Since you’ve got an Android or iPhone (and I think this works for Blackberries too), do this:

  1. For Android, download GVMyNumber.  For iPhone, download this app.
    1. Why not use the official Google Voice app for Android?  Because it may not call the same number every time, making calls OUTSIDE of your FREE friends and family list!  This is probably a problem on iPhone too.  There may be an iPhone app like GVMyNumber that always calls your OWN Google Voice number.  If anyone knows of one, please leave comments at the bottom for our iPhone users.
  2. For GVMyNumber:
    1. Start the app and tap “Settings”.
    2. Tap “Google Voice Number” and enter your Google Voice Number, then “OK”.
    3. Tap “Google Voice PIN” and enter your PIN that you create in step 6 above, then “OK”.
    4. Now, when you place a call, you’ll be prompted if you want to use GVMyNumber or not.  If you’re calling during prime time and to a number not on your friends and family list AND not to a number that fits your carriers free numbers, let the app take over.  The call will take a little longer to go through because it’s going to call your GV number, enter your PIN, go through the menu and such to make your call, BUT IT’S FREE!


Android Only

If you have an Android phone, this may be the preferred method.  Note, however, that you can use THIS method as well as the method above in the “Android and iPhone” section.  I recommend installing GVMyVoice regardless.

What’s different about THIS set of instructions?  All the sections above make and receive calls via your cell providers voice calls.  Your cell provider is aware of the phone calls (maybe not the final destination).  They appear to your cell provider as a call to or from your GV phone number and they DO use your plans minutes UNLESS you have your GV # on your “Friends and Family” plan.  Your cell provider will log the call(s) and probably show them to you on your bill as minutes accumulated on your free calls.

THIS set of instructions doesn’t use your cell providers voice service AT ALL.  As far as your cell provider is concerned, with THIS set of instructions, you never place or receive call.  This is because you’re using your DATA PLAN instead.  These are VOIP (Voice Over IP (Internet Protocol)) calls.  In other words, it’s as if you’re using voice chat from one PC to another over the internet.  You’re not using the phone systems at all.  It’s all internet traffic as far as your cell provider is concerned.

Here’s now:
  1. Go to and either log into it with your existing Google account (if you have a GMail account, you have one) or create a new one.
  2. You’ll be prompted for a new phone number. Follow the instructions and pick a phone number in the area code you prefer and pick a number you like. If you have family in a different area code than your cell phone currently is, maybe choose a number in THEIR area code so they can call you free of charge to THEM.
  3. You will be prompted to have calls to that number forwarded to your cell phone.  DON’T DO THIS!
  4. Open the gears menu in the upper-right and choose “Voice Settings”
    1. image
  5. Click on the “Phones” tab, then uncheck everything except “Google chat”.  Make sure “Google chat” is checked.
    1. image
  6. Install the app Groove IP from the Android Market.  This app is not free, but for a one time fee of $4.99, it’s well worth it for unlimited free calls to and from your cell for life!
  7. Open the app, open the menu, and choose “Settings”.
  8. Tap on “User name” and enter your Google Voice account name that you use to log into your Google Voice account, then “OK”.
  9. Tap “Password” and enter your Google Voice account password that you use to log into your Google Voice account, then “OK”.
  10. Check ON “Allow 3G/4G calling”.  Read the notes on that option and decide if you really want this.  Almost certainly you DO!
  11. “Accept calls on answer”:  I recommend leaving this UNCHECKED so you can screen your incoming calls.
  12. Tap “Built in dialer preference”.  I recommend choosing “Ask every call”.  When you place a call using your phones standard dialer, Groove IP will intercept and ask if you want to use Groove IP for the call or let the call go through as a regular cell phone call that your carrier will handle.  If the call you’re making would be a free call through your carrier (nights and weekends or someone on your friends and family list, or with some carriers, calls to any mobile, or calls to other mobile users with the same carrier), you’ll want the call to be handled by your carrier.  It is more reliable and usually slightly better quality.
  13. Tap on “Call Filtering”.
    1. Tap “Exclusion Numbers”.  You’ll set up a list of number that should never use Groove IP for calls… Any phone number that’s always free, you should just call it normally without using Groove IP, especially other cell phones on your account (your spouses, your kids, on your same plan are almost always free calls).  In addition, if you REALLY want your other numbers on your plan excluded from Groove IP because even though it may be free for you to call them with Groove IP, it’s probably NOT free for them to RECEIVE them, because they’ll be receiving a call from your Google Voice #, NOT YOUR CELL PHONE NUMBER!, so your provider will NOT consider it a free call ON THEIR END!
      1. Enter all the phone numbers that are always free from your regular cell phone.  Separate each phone number with a comma.  Make sure you enter the area codes on all of them too.  Tap “OK” when done.
  14. Go back to the Groove IP main menu and scroll down to the bottom and tap “Miscellaneous”.
    1. Check ON “Autostart” so that this app starts when you power on your phone.

That’s it.  Feel free to peruse the other options on Groove IP and fix to your likings.

Now, when you place calls, you can either use your phone’s standard dialer or open the Groove IP app and dial from there.  If you use the Groove IP dialer, you won’t be prompted if you want to use your cell provider for the call.  All calls will go over the internet as VOIP calls, except for those numbers in your exclusion list.

Incoming calls (as long as the person calling you dialed your Google Voice number and NOT your cell phone number) will trigger Groove IP to ring your phone.  You’ll answer the call with the Groove IP app (which will already be up, front, and center when an incoming Google voice call arrives).

Note that if someone calls your REAL cell phone number, your cell phone will ring normally and when you answer, it’s a NORMAL call that consumes minutes per your contract plan.  Incoming calls will NOT be free unless they’re to your Google Voice number.

Be sure to tell everyone (except those whose incoming calls are free anyway, like your spouse and kids on the same plan) that you’ve changed your cell phone number.  Give them your new Google Voice number.

Congrats!  You’re done!  And all of your incoming and outgoing cell phone calls should be ABSOLUTELY FREE! with the obvious exception of people calling your cell phone number instead of your Google Voice number.  You can easily just let those go to voicemail, then call them back with Groove IP and give them your new number so they’ll stop calling your old one that costs you money.


Since these are INTERNET based calls, the quality can be crappy sometimes.  In those cases, you can either wait until you’re in a wireless LAN spot, a 3G or better spot, or if it’s important that you make the call right then, just make a regular call and use up your minutes.  You should have an ample supply of minutes every month with your carrier’s cheapest plan though since the vast majority of your calls will be over the internet.

See this image? image_thumb26
You’ll find an actual working version of it at the bottom of this article. Please click the appropriate buttons in it to let your friends know about this printer scam.

Check back later for updates too

BTW, if you want an invite to Google Plus, e-mail me at image. That’s not a clickable e-mail address… It’s a picture to prevent spammers from easily scraping it. You’ll need to type that address, exactly as you see it, including the G and the + in front of the word “Invite”. I’d also appreciate you clicking the “+1” at the bottom of this post.

Click here to follow me on Google+.

Good Luck!

Don’t Buy Kodak ESP-3250 Printer


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Don’t buy those Kodak printers that claim they have the cheapest ink.  I made that mistake and now I’m paying for it.  I presume all current production Kodak printers do this now too.

Here’s why:

I don’t print in color, except in very very rare occasions.  I almost always tell it to print in draft and black and white only.



My black ink cartridge that came with the printer ran out of ink shortly after I bought the printer and I’ve been running on a full sized replacement since then that I had to buy separately.  I’ve not replaced the introductory color cartridge because I have no need for it.

When I just now tried to print a document, using the settings shown above, I got this error:


Notice, the ONLY option is to “Cancel Printing”.

On the printer, I get this:


(Error  Color ink cartridge needs replacing. Press OK. (Error code 3508)

If I press OK, it moves the print heads to where I can pull them out, but won’t print.

If I press the “Cancel” button on the printer, it just cancels the print job.

If I remove the color cartridge, then put it back in, it KNOWS it’s still empty and behaves the same way.

I contacted Kodak support via chat.  The final results from the tech support agent are:

  1. Even when you explicitly image tell it to use only black ink, it still uses color ink for the “grays”.
  2. There’s NO WAY to tell it to use JUST black ink.
  3. There’s NO WAY to make it print, at all, even if you’re just printing black, have PLENTY of black ink image, but ONE of your 5 color wells is empty.

So, my options are:

  1. Buy ink I don’t need and don’t want, throwing out probably about 90% of the original color ink that’s STILL IN THE CARTRIDGE in the color wells that were never used.
  2. Toss this POS and buy ink for one of my shelved printers that actually WILL print, even if the color is out, and heck, even if the black is out too… at least it’ll attempt it.
  3. Hack this oversized paperweight to trick it into thinking it’s got a full color cartridge.

On a related note, check back later for an article on how to hack your Kodak ESP 3250! Winking smile

BTW, Kodak’s main selling point of this line of printers is that they’ve got the cheapest ink, which is a lie.  I found ink just as cheap for other printers.


Here are TODAY’s prices for color ink at WalMart:



And, BTW, ink for inkjet printers is more expensive per gram than PLATINUM!  I have an acquaintance that actually cracked open one, weighed the ink, and was able to determine that by weight, the ink is considerably more expensive than an equivalent amount of platinum.

According to WolframAlpha, the current price of platinum is $1,716 per troy ounce.  Hmmm…  My acquaintance made the measurement about 5 years ago, and it looks like the price was about $1,100/oz then.  Maybe… just Maybe, platinum has become more expensive than printer ink… not quite sure.


[Update]  After I posted this I started searching for “kodak esp 3250 scam” and I found other people reporting the same thing, and worse:

BTW, if you want an invite to Google Plus, e-mail me at image.  That’s not a clickable e-mail address… It’s a picture to prevent spammers from easily scraping it.  You’ll need to type that address, exactly as you see it, including the G and the + in front of the word “Invite”.  I’d also appreciate you clicking the “+1” at the bottom of this post.
See this image? image_thumb26
You’ll find an actual working version of it at the bottom of this article. Please click the appropriate buttons in it to let your friends know about this printer scam.

Check back later for updates too

Click here to follow me on Google+.

Good Luck!

GE Money CareCredit card–DON’T GET IT!!!

Unless you’re in dire straits, I suggest you NOT get this GE Money CareCredit credit card offered by your doctor (or offered anywhere else).  You should know that their interest rates are the highest legally available.  You should ALWAYS check the interest rate on any line of credit you apply for and soundly reject those with abusive rates.  In mid 2011, a good rate is around 9%.  Most cards offer around 15%, which is not that great.  Anything over that should not even be considered.  Any offer over 18% deserves a speech from you to them about ethics and questioning them how they can sleep at night.  GE Money CareCredit is approaching THIRTY PERCENT!!!  This vastly surpasses the line of questionably ethical.  GE Money CareCredit is a huge rip off!

BTW, Pay off your debts!

And, while I’m on the subject of interest rates, call all your debtors and see if you can get a lower interest rate.  When you’re paying off your debts, pay the minimum on all of them, except your highest interest debt.  On that one, pay as much as you can possibly afford.  Sacrifice as much as you possibly can.  Cancel all magazine subs, downgrade your TV cable/satellite plan to the bare minimum (or even altogether and just watch over-the-air TV), if you still have a regular home phone system, drop it and just use your cell phone or convert it to a lower priced VOIP system ( or  Stop eating out.  Learn the sales patterns at your grocery store.  And, for the love of all that is good, use coupons!  Does your grocery store offer fuel points?  USE THEM!  All this gives you MORE MONEY to use to pay down your debts SOONER and the sooner you pay them off the LESS YOU PAY in interest over the course of the debt!  Stop using your credit cards unless it’s an emergency.

When that first, highest debt is paid off, take all the monthly money you WERE paying to that card and add it to what you’re already paying to the next highest card, until it’s paid off, then roll all that over to the next one, and so on, until all your debt is paid off.

Make sure your whole household is on board, ESPECIALLY your SPOUSE!  It makes all the difference in the world.  Make it a project that you’re both excited about (and you will be when you see your debt start to shrink)!

Good Luck!

Keep your landline number, but stop paying for it!


Click here to follow me on Minds.

Ever seen that show “Extreme Couponing”?  If not, they follow people that go the extra mile in saving on their grocery bills.  These people end up taking home $1,000 or so worth of groceries, pay little to nothing, and sometimes the store pays THEM to take their food.

I’m not quite like that, but I’m much closer to it than the average person.  THIS task is NOT that extreme.  It’s a ONE TIME task that will save you every month for the rest of your life, without doing ANY extra work after the initial setup!  I’m constantly looking for ways to decrease my living expenses.  For example, just last week, I maneuvered my coupons, Kroger fuel points, gift cards with double fuel points, etc… to get $23 off my last gas fill up for my vehicle.  If I’d worked it a little more, I’d have gotten $34 off.

This is a long post, but to save you time, here’s the quick and dirty how-to:

  1. Create a Google Voice Account.
  2. Buy an AT&T; Go phone and buy the minimum minutes you can.
  3. Port your landline to your Go Phone.
  4. Port your Go Phone to your Google Voice account.
  5. Buy this box: OBi110 Voice Service Bridge and VoIP Telephone Adapter OR the newer (as of 2014-09-11) Obi200.
  6. Create an account on the Obi web site and configure it to hook into your Google Voice Account.
  7. Change your Google Voice account to forward calls to your Google Voice Chat instead of a real phone number.
  8. Hook your OBi110 Voice Service Bridge and VoIP Telephone Adapter OR the newer (as of 2014-09-11) Obi200 to a single phone, or to your wall phone jack to enable all the phone jacks in the house.

Done!  Toss your cheapo AT&T; Go phone (but keep the charger!  It’s a standard, micro-USB charger!).  There are some gotcha’s in that list above, so I do recommend reading the details below…

Now, back to the fully explained how-to:

[UPDATE]: Obihai worked with Google and even though Google has turned off the primary feature on June 15, 2014 that made their service work with the Obihai devices, Obihei and Google announced today (2014-09-14) that the Obehai devices now FULLY work with Google voice.  For the record, my 3 year old Obi110 box STILL works just fine!

Communication expenses are ridiculously high too, so that’s one area I’m always trying to find ways to save.  Last year, I switched from Verizon to T-Mobile, added 2 more phones, added unlimited internet to 2 of them, and ended up paying LESS per month!  One life saver in that area is the free Google Voice service.  Until now, VOIP services like Vonage and were the alternative to expensive phone bills, but those are getting expensive now too with the FCC forcing ridiculous taxes and more taxes on VOIP providers, thanks to the old tech phone companies lobbying for it.  And in this series of articles, I’ll show you how to completely eliminate your land line’s phone bill, but KEEP your land line phone number(s)… even keep your landline service, but never pay for it again!  And I mean that.  You’ll pay zip, zero, nada!  No phone service bill, no fees, no taxes, no FCC tolls, no long distance… NOTHING!

What you’ll be spending money on:

Total costs are roughly $105 to $125.  This is a ONE TIME expense.  Once you do it, you’ll have no more monthly bills for your home phone service!

In the bulleted list above, the 1st three items are hot links to product pages where you can purchase all the items at once for your convenience.

What’s Google Voice?

Google Voice is a free service, available at  You sign up for free, just like you do with a free GMAIL account (in fact, you can use the same account, if you like, but DON’T!).  Sign up and Google will give you a phone number.  Don’t misunderstand… They’re not running a line to your house and providing you with a full phone service… They’re JUST giving you a phone number… You can to pick from millions of available numbers in any area code in the U.S. (I don’t know if they offer numbers outside the U.S. yet, but YOU can certainly be outside the U.S. and acquire a U.S. number).  Once you pick a number, you can then set it up to forward to one of your real phone lines, like your cell number or your home phone, or your office phone… or it can ring them all simultaneously and the first one answered wins, or ring them one at a time until someone answers… lots of cool stuff like that.  They also provide free voice-mail.  Voice-mail arrives in your inbox, similar to an e-mail inbox (in addition to your e-mail inbox, if you like).  You log into your account with a web browser and see a list of v-mail messages left for you and you can listen to them right there, in the browser.  You can save them, archive’em, treat them just like you do your e-mail.  Google Voice also automatically transcribes them with voice recognition and turns your v-mail into a text message, like e-mail.  In addition to all that, your Google voice number appears to be a cell phone number to other parties.  They can send you text messages.  You’ll have a separate inbox for your text messages AND you can send text messages to other people.  You do it all from the web.  (There are also mobile apps you can install to replace your expensive texting plan and your expensive voice plans).

You can also link your Google Voice number to your smartphone and cancel your texting plan.  Read this blog entry to see how.

But, this article isn’t about free texting or all of the cool and wonderful features of Google Voice.  It’s about telling your land line provider (or paid VOIP provider) to take a long walk off a short pier and to never pay for your landline service again!  Let’s face it, we’re long overdue for this.  The internet has been in American homes since the 1990’s.  The technology for free voice communications (well, free, not counting your internet access bill) has been available for well over a decade.  It’s high time we started utilizing this global network for the abilities it’s had for quite some time now.

FYI:  It’s not necessary for you to acquire a new phone number when you get a new Google Voice account and for the purposes of this article (dumping your current phone provider and switching to Google Voice, while keeping your current phone number) for the purposes of this article, it’s not necessary to acquire a new phone number after you create your Google Voice account since you’ll be switching your home phone # to Google Voice.  THAT will be your Google Voice number.  Again, you can create a Google Voice account without creating a new phone number.


  1. 911 doesn’t work the same way.  I don’t know the details of this yet.  I’ll update here [update below, in red] when I find out.  I STRONGLY advise you to research how this works, in addition to anything I may tell you here.  YOUare responsible for your own emergency preparedness.  It’s UP TO YOU to make sure you’re aware of and comfortable with whatever emergency communications you’re switching away from and switching towards.  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
    1. [Update]:  There is NO 911 SERVICE – NO EMERGENCY SERVICE!  So, I recommend NOT doing this unless you have other phones in the house (cell phones?) that you can use to call 911!  I also recommend printing out “No 911 Service. Use your cell phone!” on a sticker and putting it on the handsets of all your landline phones.  In case of an emergency, the person making the call may not be aware of it and YOU may be the one that’s incapacitated and unable to inform them that they can’t call 911, so you’d darn well better be prepared ahead of time!!!!!
    2. [Update 2 2014-09-11]:  Per Obihai:  “for a small fee, the OBi device may be set-up with a dedicated E911 VoIP service.”
  2. If you follow the following steps in the wrong order, you risk losing your home number and will have to settle for a different number.  In other words PAY ATTENTION!
  3. Since Google Voice is a FREE service, there’s no one to call for repairs if anything goes wrong.
  4. Make sure you unplug the phone line from the outside phone box that’s mounted to the outside of your house.  It’s easy.  Just look at it and you’ll see how to do it.  It unplugs just like the phones in your house.  You won’t need that old fashioned connection to your local phone company when you’re done.  Of course, DON’T unplug it until you’ve ported your home number to your temporary, throw-away cell phone (big step 3 below).  DON’T leave it plugged in after you’ve ported your phone number to your cell, and certainly not after you’re all set up in the end.
  5. Don’t let your money on your temporary cell phone run out before you’ve got your number fully ported to Google Voice or you’ll LOSE your home phone number for good!
  6. There ARE one-time expenses associated with this porting.  You should expect to pay roughly $100 total (for some of you, that’s lower than your monthly phone bill).
  7. Your home phone number might NOT be eligible for porting to a cell phone.  You may have to check with different cell providers (AT&T;, T-Mobile, Sprint, Boost, Verizon, Virgin, etc…).  Do that before you waste time with this.  If it CAN’T be ported, you can still do this, but you’ll have to get a NEW phone number.
  8. You must have a broadband internet connection to your home.  DSL most likely is not a good option for this since it comes with phone service and I don’t believe you can cancel it.  If you’ve got it, you might as well use it (unless you don’t get free long distance, then do this anyway, but you may need to get a NEW phone number with your Google Voice service).
  9. Google Voice calls are dropped after a full half minute of no audio.
  10. Other people don’t hear you as well as you hear them.
  11. It’s not uncommon for the other caller to not hear you at all, while you can hear them just fine.  This can happen in the middle of a “good” call too.
  12. Your VOIP service CANNOT be more reliable than your internet service (because it relies on your internet connection).  So, if you have frequent ISP outages, you’ll have at least as many outages with this system.

Here’s the general idea:

As of a few months ago, Google has offered the ability for you to port your cell phone number to Google voice.  What this means is that just as you can port your cell phone number from say, Verizon to T-Mobile, you can port your T-Mobile number to Google (for a one time $20 fee to Google).  Of course, once you do that, it’s no longer your cell phone number.  It’s your Google Voice number.  But what about porting your landline number to Google Voice?  Well, at first you’d think it’s not possible because Google doesn’t yet offer you the ability to port your landline to them.  But!  Did you know most landline numbers CAN BE ported to a cell phone?  Then, guess what?  You can port that cell phone number to Google voice!  You just buy the cheapest, piece of crap cell phone you can find, port your landline to it, then port it (the cell phone) to Google Voice, then toss the POS cell phone.

Step 1:

Check to make sure your land line can be ported!  You may have to call your operator.  If you find your landline can’t be ported, you’re not totally out of luck, but you ARE out of luck in keeping your old number if you want to follow through with this.

Step 2:

Buy the absolute cheapest cell phone you can find.  DO NOT sign up for a contract!  This means get one of those prepaid phones.  I just bought an AT&T; Go Phone from Walmart for $11.84.  There was actually a cheaper Tracfone, but note that you have to buy a minimum amount of minutes for any of these phones, so you need to look at the price of the phone PLUS the price of the minimum minutes.  That made the AT&T; option the cheapest for me.  Again, DO NOT SIGN A CONTRACT!  You’re only going to have this phone for a few days… maybe a week or two at most… and you’re only going to make 2 calls with it… One to it, and one from it… just to verify your home number got ported properly.  Then you’re going to toss the phone.

Step 3:

Call your new cell phone provider to activate your new, temporary cell phone and tell them you want to port your old number.  They’ll walk you through the details of doing that.  Note that land line transfers take longer than cell phone transfers.  I’m told mine will likely be completed in 6 actual days.  Keep checking on the status and as soon as it’s ported, call your cell phone provider and inform them.  They may have to flip a switch to complete the process.

[Update] Mine was completed in about 9 days.

Step 4:

Now, your landline is no more (stop paying your bill!!! (well, you may have one, final bill that you’ll need to pay.)  You now have a cell phone with your old home telephone number.  That means you can now port it to Google Voice!  Go to and create a new account.  I recommend NOT using any existing Google accounts you have.  I’ll explain why in a later article, but trust me, you don’t want it linked to any other account where you have important, personal information stored like e-mail or docs, etc…

Once you’ve logged into your newly created Google Voice account, click the “gears” menu in the upper right corner and choose “Voice Settings”


Then, under the “Phones” tab, click “Change / Port”


Then, follow the onscreen instructions, providing your cell number (which was just recently your land line number!!! Don’t put in your long time cell number or you’ll lose it!).  At some point along this process Google will ask you for $20 to complete the port.  Do it.  After a day or so, your old landline number will be your Google Voice number and you can toss the piece of crap, temporary cell phone you used to temporarily hold the number.  You can also stop paying an outrageously expensive monthly fee for that land line number.

Stay tuned and I’ll provide another article on how to get actual phone service back to your home, using your old home number, and STILL BE FREE!!!

[Update 2011-08-05]  Getting landline service BACK to your home FOR FREE!

I’ve ordered the OBi110 Voice Service Bridge and VoIP Telephone Adapter .  This product works just like your Vonage or Lingo VOIP box.  You plug it into your wall for power, your router or cable modem for internet access, and either plug one phone into it, or plug it into your phone wall outlet to give all your other phone outlets in the house access.

It acts as a Google voice chat client and uses your telephone as a speaker and microphone.  And YES, you can send and receive regular phone calls on it with it using your existing telephones!  In theory (I’ve not received mine yet, so I can’t tell you for certain… YET… stay tuned), in theory, you should be able to use your home phones the same way you’ve been using them with your same home phone number(s) you’ve been using for years!

Once I receive my OBi110, hook it up, and test it out, I’ll report back here how well it works.

So, check back after August 10, 2011 (that’s the day Amazon shipping predicts I’ll receive it) and I’ll let you know:

  • If it works, and if so, how well.
  • The voice quality.
  • Whether it works by plugging it into a phone wall jack to use all my phones around the house.
  • Whether I can send and receive calls using just the phones in the house.
  • Anything else I can think of between now and then.


I’ve received my OBi110, hooked it up, and it just works!  I plugged a phone cable from the OBi110 between the phone wall jack and the phone jack on the OBi110 and all the outlets in the house can now accept any standard phone plugged into them.  They all have a dial tone and can all send and receive calls.

So, How Well does this whole system Work?

That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?  Well, I’ve got mixed results with it.  I’ll say this, it’s worth more than its monthly fee (which is ZERO, BTW! Smile )  My first attempt at placing and receiving calls worked flawlessly!  I placed a call FROM my new, free, home phone service to my cell phone.  And again, placed a call from my cell phone to my home phone.  Those tests worked fine.  I’ve been using it for about a week now and here are the results:

  • Calls on my end are crisp and clear (usually). [Update]: Always clean and clear now.
  • There is a very low frequency background buzzing sound.  The clicks in the buzz seem to be coordinated with the constant flashing light on the OBi110’s internet traffic light, so that light may be causing electrical interference.  I’ll contact OBi to see if that’s normal. [Update]: It is either my device or the power cables right next to my device going to my computer.
  • On several occasions, I was in the middle of conversation, and the other party could no longer hear me.  I had to hang up and call back. [Update]: After 3 years of using this, I can’t recall the last time this happened.  It appears to be as good as a regular, paid phone service now.
  • If I call YOU, you can hear me fine (usually), but it’s usually a lower quality.  [Update]:  Quality problems have been gone for a long time.
  • I’ve called home from work and from my cell, and so far, it always sounds perfectly clear, but as mentioned in the bullet above, I do get reports, when I cask people, that they hear me in a lower quality. [Update]: Never happens anymore.
  • There have been a call or two where we placed the call from home, it rang, the other party answered and we could hear them, but they couldn’t hear us.  [Update]: This happens on my regular phone and cell phone more often than on my Google Voice phone now.
  • Waiting message light on my phones plugged into the OBi110 DO work!
  • Sometimes, there’s a noticeable delay.  [Update]: This has not happened in a very long time.

Am I happy with it?

Heck yes!

Is my WIFE happy with it?

NO!  But she’s not the one that writes the check to the phone company every month. [Update]:  She’s just fine with it now, but now that we have unlimited talk and text on all the family cell phones, she rarely uses the home phone.

Is this good to replace a business or home business phone with?

Absolutely NOT!  In my opinion, it’s perfectly fine for a home phone, but NOT a business phone.  It’ll give your customers a poor impression of your business.  I would expect, like Lingo, that the quality and reliability will improve over time, but for now, I can’t recommend it for a business voice line.  [Update]:  I still say be careful with this choice, but the quality and reliability have greatly improved in the 3 years since I originally wrote this.

What about using it as a fax line?

This may be a very good use for it.  The quality only needs to be good enough for the two fax machines to communicate.  I’ve not tried this yet.  Check back later and I’ll report back.

[Update 4:13 PM 11/6/2011]  I finally found the power cable to my old fax machine.  I just tested it out and successfully sent my first fax over my Google Voice line via the OBi110!


How does this compare to

For those that don’t know, is a VOIP home phone service, just like Vonage.  I’ve been using Lingo for over 6 years now.  I’ve been generally happy with the quality, the features, and the price, though the price has been steadily going up, not because they’re raising the price, but because of taxes!

First, before I compare this free service to Lingo’s paid service, let me compare Lingo’s paid service to a plain old telephone service (POTS):

For the most part, you cannot tell the difference between Lingo and POTS.  Once up and running, they’re almost indistinguishable from each other in voice quality and reliability.  A few years back, there was a noticeable difference, for the past 2 or three years, Lingo’s quality is right on par with POTS.  Of course, with Lingo, you get ALL the call features (deluxe caller ID, party calling, forwarding, distinctive ring, voice-mail, etc… etc…) for NO EXTRA COST.  If you have lingo, you have ALL of those service, plus other cool features like forwarding calls to another number, depending on who’s calling (I have some known telemarketers forwarded to phone numbers designed to waste their time! Smile)  In addition to all those extra features you get with Lingo over a POTS, it costs much less too.  Oh!  And with Lingo, you don’t have to have a long distance provider, you don’t have to pay that long distance provider every freaking month, even if you don’t make phone calls.  All calls are “local” calls to all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, Western Europe, and very very low rates to other places like China, Japan, and Russia.  More and more countries are being added to “local” calls.  You can get a phone number in any area code you want.  So, there’s no benefit at all to a POTS as opposed to Vonage or Lingo, unless you have a poor quality internet connection.

So, how does this new, free system compare to Lingo?

Well, it’s certainly CHEAPER, of course.  The voice quality isn’t as good, it’s not as reliable, but you do get all these features:


  • Keep your old number (in most cases).
  • Free, unlimited, domestic calling.
  • Cheap rates to other countries (I’m in the U.S., BTW)
  • Web browser access to your voice mail and text messages, very similar to a web based e-mail client, like gmail.
  • Free, unlimited texting (yes, even for your home phone!)  All Google Voice accounts get texting.  There ARE limitations to this free texting though, but from person to person, it works great.
  • New, telemarketer filter (just like a spam filter on e-mail)!!!
  • Record phone calls.
  • Placed, Missed, Received Call logs.
  • Voice-mail is transcribed to text via Google’s automatic voice to text technology.
  • Text of voice-mail can be e-mailed to you.
  • Received calls can be forwarded to another number (but not another Google Voice Number!)
  • Received calls can ring multiple other phones simultaneously and the first one to pick up wins.
  • Received calls can be sent to multiple other phones, one at a time, giving up and trying the next on the list, until either someone answers or so many rings with no answer, then sent to v-mail.
  • Can be used with Google Chat (in fact, to use the OBi110 OR the newer (as of 2014-09-11) Obi200, you set your Google Voice account to forward calls to Google Chat).
  • Can send and receive calls with your web browser, using your PC’s mic and speakers or headphones (no phone or OBi110 OR the newer (as of 2014-09-11) Obi200 box required).
  • Google Voice chat (built into GMail) is fully integrated.
  • Can initiate calls with your browser between two other phones.  Say you’re at work and you want to place a call from home to somewhere else.  Use your browser at work.  It’ll call your office phone, then once you’re on, it’ll place the call to the other number.  The other person sees your home # on their caller ID.
  • Access your voicemail from any phone (in addition to web based and e-mail based access mentioned above).
  • Call screening:  First time calls from any number are prompted for their name.  When you answer, you hear THAT and decide whether to answer or to send to v-mail.
  • After you send a screened call to v-mail, you can listen live, and then cut in at any time and start talking to them.
  • Create groups.  Please certain numbers in any group.  Give each group a customized v-mail greeting.
  • Different forwarding rules for each group.
  • Call screening on or off, per group.
  • Place call widgets on your web page(s) to let people on the web give you a call, without revealing your phone number.

Saving Money

Now, I can’t let this discussion end without talking about saving money, since that’s the purpose of all this.  It’s YOUR money, of course, so you can do with it as you please, but since you’re already used to sending that money out every month, why not just send it to your highest interest debt, in addition to what you’re already sending to it per month?  This way, your savings are truly working for you.  You’ll get your debt paid off sooner and all that interest you WON’T be paying will add up over time.  In the long run, it can save you bookoos of money.

Here’s a simple table showing your savings, assuming you have, say a typical credit card with 18% interest and a monthly phone bill of about $30/mo. and also assuming you’ll send this saved money towards your credit card debt.  Look at the “Total Saved” column.  You’ll reduce your credit card debt by $395 the first year alone!

              Total  Interest  Total
Month  Paid    Paid   Saved    Saved
1   $30.00  $30.00  $0.45   $30.45
2   $30.00  $60.00  $1.35   $61.35
3   $30.00  $90.00  $2.70   $92.70
4   $30.00 $120.00  $4.50  $124.50
5   $30.00 $150.00  $6.75  $156.75
6   $30.00 $180.00  $9.45  $189.45
7   $30.00 $210.00 $12.60  $222.60
8   $30.00 $240.00 $16.20  $256.20
9   $30.00 $270.00 $20.25  $290.25
10   $30.00 $300.00 $24.75  $324.75
11   $30.00 $330.00 $29.70  $359.70
12   $30.00 $360.00 $35.10  $395.10

So, did this work for you?  Let me know in the comments below.

Are you NOT going to do this?  I’d REALLY like to know why not too in the comments below.

Click here to follow me on Minds.

See this image? image_thumb26
You’ll find an actual working version of it at the bottom of this article. Please click the appropriate buttons in it to let your friends know about this article so they too can fire their phone company.

Check back later for updates too

Good Luck!

Quicken 2010 bugs

Update 2012-03-03

This is just an online, public bug report about bugs in Quicken 2010. I’m hoping that publishing them will quicken (pardon the pun) Intuit into fixing them.

See also

Here are the bugs I’ve found so far:
  • Upgrade Notification Bug: [added this entry 2012-01-15]  Upon starting Quicken Home & Business 2010, I’m presented with this ugly window that IS NOT RESIZABLE!
    • image
  • Online payments lost: [added this entry on 2011-05-20] Sometimes, as soon as you enter a new, repeating online payment, as soon as you hit save, it goes nowhere.  You have to set it all up again.
  • Online payment amount changed: [added this entry on 2011-05-20] Enter an online payment by entering the amount first, then choose the payee, and it will replace the amount you entered with whatever the last amount was you sent to that payee.  If you don’t notice it, THAT’s the amount of money that’s sent.  This can cost you A LOT!
  • Repeating payment schedule changed: [added this entry on 2011-05-20] While entering a repeating payment, enter the schedule (weekly, every 2 weeks, monthly, etc…) and choose something other than monthly, then mark it as “repeating online payment” and it will CHANGE it to MONTHLY, regardless of what you had before. This can cause you in late fees or it can cost you by sending it out too often by not having enough for your other payments.
  • Super Slow Downloads: [added this entry on 2011-04-16] Ever since an update a few months ago (around the time Quicken 2011 was introduced), Quicken 2010’s download transactions went from mere seconds to several MINUTES.  There are a LOT of complaints about this.  There is speculation that they introduced this bug on purpose to entice people to spend money on Quicken 2011.
    • [Updated 2012-03-03]  I timed it today.  It took ELEVEN MINUTES!!!! on a 50mb/s data connection!  This is completely unacceptable! It’s only downloading data measured in KiloBytes.  There’s no reason for it to take 11 minutes.  In that amount of time, I could download 4.1 BILLION bytes of information… That’s almost 2 DVDs worth.  For comparison, let’s give Quicken the benefit of the doubt and assume that what it downloaded was a full megabyte (that’s a gross over-estimate).  With my data connection, that should take 6.25 seconds… Let’s even grant it a ridiculous 10 seconds of delay for each bank it needs to connect to and another ridiculous 10 seconds for each account.  With my setup, that’s 4 banks and 7 accounts.  So that’s an extra 110 seconds we’re granting to it, plus the 6.25 seconds for the actual 1 megabyte of actual data makes 116.5 seconds as an unreasonably high allowance… about 2 minutes, yet it’s taking it 11 minutes!
  • 1st download NEVER works: [added this entry on 2011-04-16] This goes along with the super slow downloads mentioned above.  At the same moment the slow downloads happened, this new bug happened.  After waiting several minutes on the downloads, it never works and pops up the download window again, forcing you to go through the process a second time.  It’s only after the SECOND download attempt that anything ever gets transmitted.
  • Sometimes, accepting a downloaded transaction causes Quicken 2010 to crash.  First though, when clicking the “Accept” button, the register flickers for about 1000 milliseconds (about 1 full second), then the program crashes (this is on Windows 7 Ultimate with all the latest service updates).  Quicken version = Quicken Home & Business 2010 Release 5.
  • No Sound:  Quicken has several sounds for different events like startup (a short tune), accept transaction (cha-ching), and others.  All of a sudden, Quicken 2009 (yes, 2009) stopped playing sounds.  Yes, the play sounds option is indeed checked and yes, sound works in all other programs (this is not my first time messing with a computer, BTW 🙂  I upgraded to Quicken 2010 at the first of the year.  The upgrade involved uninstalling Quicken 2009, then freshly installing 2010.  The sounds worked… for about a week or two, then they stopped again.
  • File corruption:  This is a serious issue.  EVERY TIME I call Quicken support with a problem, they claim the file is corrupt.  This seems to be their excuse for all bugs in the software.  They want to dismiss any issue as a bug and claim it’s a corrupt file.  Fine, it’s a corrupt file.  Now, fix Quicken so it STOPS CORRUPTING my files!  This has been going on through at least 3 versions of Quicken (2007, 2009, 2010 (I skipped 2008)).  A bug this serious requires a complete rewrite of their file access data layer routines.
  • Renaming Rules: This is quite an annoying bug. I personally do not want Quicken to rename my payees, yet there seems to be NO WAY to prevent Quicken from doing so. I participated in 3 online tech support chats and 2 call-back phone support incidents in the last week. NONE of their suggestions worked AND they refuse to accept that this is a bug. Here’s the problem: When you download transactions using PC Banking, then go and accept your transactions, Quicken will suggest renaming rules… actually, it will DICTATE renaming rules. You cannot tell it “No”. Furthermore, the dialog box that pops up informing you of the new dictatorial renaming rules being forced on you, has a check box that says something like “don’t inform me of renaming rules again”. There are 2 problems with this.
    1. I believe that checking it only causes Quicken to not inform you of new renaming rules, but it’ll still make new renaming rules.
    2. You only have 2 buttons “Apply” and “Cancel”. If you click “Apply”, it’ll apply the rule(s) that it’s showing you. I think that’s the only way to enforce the checkbox for “don’t tell me anymore”. If you click “cancel”, you’re canceling the dialog box and therefore canceling your check box “don’t tell me anymore” which means it’ll continue to tell you. Also, canceling the dialog box does not prevent it from enforcing the rule.
    • This has been a bug since at least Quicken 2007. image
    • I’ve reported this problem at least a dozen times to Quicken support since 2007.  It wasn’t until early to mid 2009 that they finally acknowledged that this was a bug and I was told that this was being fixed.  Well, many Quicken 2009 updates later AND a major new version (2010), this bug still remains.
    • Update (2011-01-29):  After building a new machine, installing Windows 7 Ultimate, and installing Quicken 2010…  Below is my bug report to Intuit:
      • I’m on tech support with Pankaj right now who is directing me to enter the bug report here.  Note that I’ve been reporting this since Quicken 2007 and nothing has been done about it.
      • Bug:  “Renaming Rules” always apply.
      • When installing and setting up Quicken, I told it to NOT use renaming rules (it’s really important that I’m able to distinguish between the different walmart stores I shop at and not have them all renamed to “walmart”, losing all info about WHICH walmart (same for any other chain store with multiple locations).
      • When I downloaded transactions, automatically added them to my register.  Fine.  But after a few weeks of using my fresh install of Quicken 2010, it stopped showing transactions as cleared and my paycheck didn’t show up, so I went to edit->preferences->downloaded transactions.
        I unchecked “Automatically add downloaded transactions to register”.  I did pay VERY CLOSE attention to the 3 check boxes relating to renaming rules.  The 1st and last checkboxes were UNCHECKED and the middle one was checked (but disabled).  I changed nothing relating to renaming rules.  I clicked OK.
      • Immediately, the downloaded transactions showed up in a list at the bottom of the screen (this is good).  When I clicked on the first one and clicked “Accept”, a box popped up “Quicken has created a renaming rule for USAA”?!?!?!?!?  WHY?  This is a BUG!  There was no option to tell it “NO”.  I was on tech support and he told me to click “OK” and that it wouldn’t apply the rule.  We went back into quicken preferences and the 3 check boxes for renaming WERE ALL CHECKED!
      • We unchecked them, clicked OK and went back to the downloaded transactions at the bottom of the screen and accepted the next one which did not pop up with renaming rules.  BUT, with Quicken 2007 AND with my prior machine with Quicken 2010, this always happens again after my next download.
      • Again, I’ve been complaining about this since Quicken 2007 when this feature was introduced.  It’s NEVER worked right for people that doe NOT want renaming rules.
      • Please see my blog post where I discuss this bug as well as many other Quicken 2010 and 2009 bugs:
      • Check out the comments at the bottom of the blog entry.  Clearly this is a bug that many people have been frustrated with since 2007.
    • Update (2011-05-24):  This bug just reared it’s ugly head again!  I’ve not changed ANY preference, yet I was just prompted for renaming “Wendys”:image
      • Again, there’s no way to tell it no as clicking the “Don’t offer to rename my payees again” and then clicking “cancel” (so that it won’t rename) will ignore my option on the check box, since that’s what “cancel” buttons do.
      • This time, it didn’t force the renaming rule, but it should never have suggested it at all.
      • Here are my renaming preferences as they existed immediately after clicking “cancel” in the dialog above:image
      • And here are the existing rules (there should be NONE!):
      • image

See also