Computer Solutions

HAVE YOU VoIPed it YET?

If you haven?t yet tried out VoIP, that?s voice over IP, or internet telephone, chances are you will soon. Most of us somehow forgot about voice when the Internet came along and we started e-mailing like crazy; thousands of messages a day, spinning across the universe from computer to computer.

Then, suddenly, VoIP comes along. With the 2003 launch of Skype?s peer-to-peer service, the 2004 Canadian rollout of Primus? and Vonage?s VoIP service, along with the anticipated entry of Bell and Rogers, VoIP has become a catch phrase; the ?Next Big Thing?. So is it really that great? I decided to find out.

My first Internet call was done with Skype. I downloaded the software and called up a friend in Vancouver. Just the software, a microphone and speakers and I?m talking for free and the quality of the connection was relatively good. The problem was, I needed my computer to use the service. Next, I had a go with some real VoIP phones, the kind where you hook up your regular phone to a special telephone adapter connected to your Ethernet cable. For the user, this means cheaper rates, phone numbers that, like e-mail, have no fixed physical location, and integrated Web interfaces that allow for online call management. Most VoIP accounts come with two phone lines, and if you?re using it in just one room, the setup is a snap.

If you decide to go whole hog and give up regular Telco service, you can either go with cordless phones with multiple handsets and multiple extensions, or unplug the whole house jack from the Telco service where it enters your house and plug it into the VoIP adapter. Voila. All your phones will be VoIP. The VoIP online component allows for a wide range of options. You can forward voice mails, manage contacts, set up groups, and keep a record of all incoming and outgoing calls. In effect, you can manage your phone when you?re not on it. Since you can choose your phone number, and take that number with you anywhere in the world, there is no such thing as long distance anymore.

Unlike regular phones, VoIP phones do not function during power outages or when the Internet is down, so experts advise keeping a regular telephone line as a backup, having a UPS system, or using the ?find me, follow me? service, which predefines a list of numbers to call, or sends out a call to all numbers in case of emergency. Vonage currently has only two phone area codes in BC, 604 and 250 with no local exchanges for Tumbler Ridge. So that means that if Vonage were your only phone service, your friends would have to call long distance to talk to you. The emergency 911 service is also an issue. Since the physical phone could be anywhere, register your location so that 911 will know where to go in case of an emergency. Oh! And don?t forget, you need to have a high speed internet account to make this all work!

Tech Toys

If you live to be in the great out doors then you can?t afford not to have the Motorola TalkAbout T5500R Rechargeable Radio. The TalkAbout is one of the rugged ?Value series? of the TalkAbout lines. The Range is up to five miles and built to withstand all that the great outdoors can throw at you. The grip housing protects the radio, whether you?re hiking in the mountains or playing at the park, or just want to keep track of the kids at the camp out, this radio has it all. The TalkAbout has full 22 ? frequency capability with 38 private codes. This helps to reduce line chatter. It also carries the Quiet Talk Noise Filter which adds to the privacy feature that you can only find in Motorola. When this feature is enabled, radios from other manufacturers can?t be heard on your channel.

These radios come as a pair, and some of the other features are; low battery alert, L.E.D. backlit display, call confirm tone, keypad lock, VOX voice activated feature, priority scan, and time out timer. If you?re the out doors type then these are the 2 ? way radios to have. Nothing else compares.

Computer Questions

Question:

How can I tell how much hard disk space I have left on my computer??

Answer:

The easiest way to do this is to click the start button, click on my computer, and run your mouse over the C Drive. A balloon will come up and tell you how much space you have left on your hard drive and the size of your hard drive. You can also click on the C Drive with your right mouse button and then click on properties; and this will give you the same information.

Please send your computer questions to helpme@compsolution.ca and we?ll publish your answer in a future column. Call Computer Solutions at 242-3404 for all your computer needs.