Well, I currently have a great big smile plastered on my face. I’ve been blessed with a cheerful disposition anyway, but today I’m even more so because my little PhonePower adapter has arrived (of course, it’s not the size of your little adapter, it’s what you do with it that counts). Let’s wind things back a little. Theoretically, I could work out of a home office; in practice, however, I prefer to rent a real office. Quite apart from anything else, making sure I arrive at my office before 8:00 a.m. each day and staying until 5:00, 6:00, or 7:00 p.m. each evening (depending on how much work I have on the go) almost makes it seem like I have a real job. Also, when I leave the office, I do my best to leave work behind me (I’m not always successful, but I try).
The PhonePower adapter lets you use a regular phone to make calls over the Internet (Click image to see a larger version — Image source: PhonePower)
In addition to being the place where I work, the Pleasure Dome (my office) is also where I store all of my books (technical, reference, science fiction, and graphic novels); essentially, anything that fails to meet the esthetics of our study at home as deemed by my wife (Gina the Gorgeous). Similarly, the Pleasure Dome is home to all my flashing, beeping hobby projects, which also fail to meet our unwritten home aesthetic criteria. Recently, the company from which I rented my office decided to move, so I was forced to find a new location. In a few weeks, I will be celebrating the 21st anniversary of the 21st anniversary of my 21st birthday. The reason I mention this here (apart from the hope that you will feel moved to send me a present — a large pile of money never offends) is that I’ve decided I’ve extracted all the fun out of moving office by myself over the years, so I engaged the services of a local company called Motivated Movers to come to my old office, pack everything up, and move it all to the new office. This ended up being the best move I ever made (in all senses of the phrase). Motivated Movers certainly lived up to their name. I didn’t have to do a thing apart from stooge around looking outrageously handsome (fortunately, I had that part covered), and I ended up as relaxed and refreshed as one might hope. I can’t speak for other locations, but I would be happy to recommend Motivated Movers in Huntsville, Alabama, to anyone (just ask for Ben and tell him “Max says Hi”). Even though I have my new office, I’m still currently working from home sitting at the kitchen table due to the coronavirus pandemic. I’ve been here for what seems like a lifetime, and — even though our state-wide “shelter-in-place” order is in the process of being relaxed — I think I’ll remain here for a few more weeks until Gina finally decides it’s time for me to head out of the door. The main thing is that I want to have my new office fully established in anticipation of my return. In my previous office, I was allowed to piggy-back on their internet and phone services, but I’m going to be on my own in the new building. I checked all of the regular suspects and quickly discovered that a business internet and phone service would cost around $80 a month, which seemed a tad extreme. An internet-only account comes in at a more reasonable $50 a month, but this left me still needing a phone solution. Some of my freelance friends use their smartphones for both business and personal calls, but I prefer to keep these two aspects of my life separate. What do you do when you have a question about this sort of thing? For myself, I have a small group for techno-weenie friends to whom I turn, and who rarely fail to offer sage advice. In this case, it was my chum Rick Curl who responded telling me to take a look at a company called PhonePower. O-M-G! This turned out to be just what I needed! In addition to the fact that you can keep your existing number or select a new number, you can get a worldwide calling plan with unlimited calls to 75 countries for only $24.95 a month, which is substantially less than I currently pay for my home phone (a circumstance that may well end up being changed in the not-so-distant future). In the case of my new office, I opted for the unlimited calling in the USA and Canada package for only $8.33 a month (I also get 60 minutes of free calls to the UK each month, which is nice). All of which returns us to the PhonePower adapter. Once you have a PhonePower account, they send you this adapter for free. All you have to do is to connect it to your internet modem or router with the supplied Ethernet cable, plug in a standard analog or digital handset that you can pick up from Walmart for peanuts, and start making calls. As part of setting up the account, the folks at PhonePower ask you how you want your Caller ID name to appear on the screens of the people you call. If you wish to use your company name, you can do so with no charge, but they do ask to see a copy of your company’s incorporation papers. Personally, I think this is a great way to prevent nefarious people from simply calling themselves anything they feel like, so I fully support PhonePower on this one. But wait, there’s more! In fact, there’s much, much more. First, you can download a free PhonePower App to your iOS or Android device — I downloaded it to my iPhone. In the same way that there’s a regular phone icon on my iPhone, I now also have a PhonePower icon, so I can use my iPhone to make calls that appear to originate from my personal number or from my business number.
The PhonePower Softphone allows you to make and receive calls on your PC or MAC (Click image to see a larger version — Image source: Max Maxfield)
You can also download a Softphone version of PhonePower to your PC or MAC. I’ve used my headset to make calls with the Softphone and the quality is as clear as a bell. And things just keep on getting better, because when someone calls my PhonePower number, in addition to my office phone ringing, the PhonePower app on my smartphone rings and the PhonePower Softphone app on my PC pops up an “Incoming Call” window. Whichever one I answer, the others cease clamoring for my attention. There are also all sorts of call forwarding options, including the ability to provide an emergency backup number, so if you lose your internet connection to the office, those calls will be rerouted to your backup device. Of particular interest to me is that there’s also an option to record your calls, which are saved into whichever folder you specify on your PC or MAC (in my case they are saved as individual WAV files, but I think you can specify the format you prefer). You can set things up to automatically record all of your calls, or you can simply click the “Record” button on your Softphone to record calls on an individual basis. I just performed a quick test, chatting to my son and recording the conversation (he knew what I was doing, of course), and — once again — the quality of the recording was as clear as a bell. I am very, very impressed. This is going to make my life so much easier when I’m conducting phone interviews to research articles. The scary thing is that I think I’ve barely touched the surface of all the features PhonePower has to offer, but I am absolutely delighted with what I’ve seen thus far. I’m going to be experimenting further over the coming weeks, but I don’t think it will be long before we cancel our existing home phone service and replace it with a PhonePower equivalent. So, over to you — what do you think about all this? Are you happy with the phone service you currently employ, or do you think you could be tempted to dip your toes into the PhonePower waters?