Tuesday, January 15, 2013

IT (And PT And OT, And Probably ET), Phone Home!

Of all the annoying aspects of homecoming, the utter demise of my home land-line phone has to be the most vexing. The failure must have happened in the first couple of weeks I spent in hospital: the land line itself did not fail, but the failure of the old VTech multi-handset cordless phone's base unit answering system exposed all incoming calls to the AT&T CallNotes® behind it, which I normally do not use... at least not intentionally. It's just part of the package I subscribe to, normally eclipsed by the phone's answering system, which I do use intentionally. Not "do"; "did" ... it's dead, Jim.

The result? Voice messages from ancient history emerged from the void. Forty of them... 40 messages... floated forward from holidays, elections, hurricanes and power failures past, SBCGlobal system failures from hours to weeks long. Four years' worth of incoming voice messages came alive again, and all newer messages were swallowed by the hungry system.

Needless to say, as I had never used CallNotes® in a practical setting, I had long since lost the printed documentation supplied by Ma Bell. The Blue-and-White-Striped Lady is not fond of putting her documentation on the web, so it took considerable browsing... and one phone call to a very testy help representative... to obtain enough info to work out the rest in my fatigued brain. No, none of it was difficult. Yes, all of it was (apparently intentionally) obscured from public view. Oh, and the testy rep gave partially bad info, of which I had to figure out which parts to ignore.

Why did I so desperately need a working answer system or voicemail? because this old house has only one jack for my phone line (which must have been used as a phone for a business at home a few years back... Stella's line enters at several points; mine at only one). When my line survived while my fancy phone failed, there remained only one POTS ("plain old telephone service") phone in my boneyard, which I was forced to hook up to it. The whole setup... the end of the drop and the POTS phone... was about 5-10 minutes by walker from my usual seat in the den, which meant that I missed most phone calls, which meant that I really needed to provide callers an answering system to talk to. Now they will soon have one. It's cumbersome, but it beats nothing.

Step Two was to acquire a replacement fancy phone. Where does one look on the 'net, and what does one look for? Search for any obvious set of terms, e.g., cordless speakerphone without answering, and try to make practical sense of the thousands of phones for sale out there. It isn't easy. In the above query, "with" matches "without" and is enough to drive one crazy, or to Best Buy... if indeed anything could drive a person with my physical failings to a big-box store! Eventually, Amazon came to the rescue... Amazon and about three hours of poring over ads. I ended up ordering a less-than-brand-new design of Panasonic's familiar cordless phone, without an answering system which could interfere with CallNotes®. I can only hope this does the trick.

1 comment:

  1. I have a Panasonic system and bought one for my Mother when her old system died a few months ago. I bought them primarily because they use standard NiMH AAA rechargeable batteries, so you don't have to pay $20 when the specialty NiCads that most other manufacturers use die.

    I use the phone's answering system although I have voice-mail with the rip-off plan I pay for to get DSL, but I can turn it off. I use the in-phone system because it notifies me with a message on the handset, and I can do everything from the handset without looking for the base station under the books and papers and cats. With speaker-phone capabilities built into the handset it is as easy to use as my old Plantronics headset phone when I need both hands for typing.

    They really work well for me and my Mother.



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