Monday, December 31, 2007

GrandCentral: child accounts, features explained and annoyances

I'm planning to give all the children a GrandCentral number. I'll control the number and email of course -- until each child snatches the pebble from my hand.

At first the number will route to our home, but in time it will route to their personal phones. When they're old enough they get the password and route calls as they will.

So as I set this up I'm exploring GrandCentral features. I liked the explanation one blogger provided for "CallSwitch" (click the link for a description of all GC features):
Web Application Developer: Grand Central - All The Phone Services You Wanted

... CallSwitch: That name is really deceiving. It really should be called 'phone switch', because it lets you re-ring your phones in the middle of a call. So - someone calls. It rings the house. The problem is that I'm getting ready to get out the door. I could call them back on the cell, or I could hit a button on my phone, and the call will ring my phones again so I can pick up the cell. Again on the cell-minute-saver, if I'm outside mowing the lawn, and get a call on the cell, I can take it, walk into the house, hit a button, switch the call to the house phone, and save the minutes...
I've noticed two annoyances so far with GrandCentral:
  1. I'd like to be able to send all calls from my own cell to voice mail, so I can use my phone to capture thoughts and ideas as I drive. This works with MaxEmail, but GrandCentral handles all calls from my cell number as a request to check my voice mail.

  2. Given #1 I think it won't work to add my home number as a GC number, if I do that then nobody using my home phone will be able to reach me. I suspect the GC team were too young to have children.

  3. I wish they supported RSS for notification instead of email. I can work around this though because Bloglines supports creating an email address that generates a feed. So I use this as my GrandCentral notification email.

  4. They don't support fax-in, I'd be glad to pay for this service.

  5. There's no integration with the Gmail contact service and the Gmail import is very old fashioned (doesn't use the Gmail API at all).
GrandCentral is obviously ripe for a vast amount of improvement; we'll have to see how clever Google gets with the service.

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