I finally got around to replacing my home fixed line phone with VOIP. I took the easy route of sticking with my ISP, Netspace/iiNet.
Local calls were costing me 30 cents, but because I only make at most perhaps about a dozen a month, a grand total for net+phone of around $95 per month. With all the phone costs included, each call was costing me about $3. (Some of them can be quite lengthy, which is why I decided not to abandon any form of home phone completely.)
Switching to the equivalent Naked (eg without a home phone) ADSL plan, with VOIP (which doesn’t count towards the plan quota, and includes free local and national calls) is costing me $59.95 per month. On top of that I’ve decided to rent (rather than buy) a BoB2 combined VOIP-capable modem and VOIP phone for an extra $9.95 (on a two year contract — I’ve checked; we won’t get the NBN in that time).
So I’m at $69.90 per month with most calls included — saving about $25 per month.
One thing that scared me about doing the change were the warnings that it would take 10-20 days, and that I would be without Internet during this time. As an extremely wired, internet-addicted person (and indeed family), this terrified me, and I ended up timing it for the January school holidays when the kids were away. (I figured I could find ways around it on my own, like using my mobile, though I’d need to take it easy to avoid high fees.)
This turned out to be a furphy. The text might imply you’ll be without Internet for the full switch period, but in fact once I’d signed-up, an email I received said that in fact it would be out for only up to one day.
If I’d known that I would have done it a lot sooner. In fact any outage was barely noticeable — it probably happened in the middle of the day when we were all out.
I think they’ve severely undersold how easy it is to switch.
The catches of VOIP
There are catches of course.
The BoB2 wasn’t quite plug-in and go, as advertised… it seemed to have picked-up the wrong logon info from somewhere; possibly an issue with migrating off an existing account. Easily solved.
I had ummed and ahhed over keeping my old phone number or switching to a new one. In the end I placed the order requesting to keep the old one, but when it was provisioned, they’d actually allocated a new one. I don’t mind — I almost chose it that way — so I won’t bother to get it changed back, though there’s a few people I’ll need to notify.
By ordering VOIP you have to waive your rights under the telephone service Customer Service Guarantee. Basically that means if it doesn’t work, you don’t have much recourse. That’s OK for us — we barely use the home phone anyway; the mobile is much more important, so this is really just a backup (and cheaper option for local calls).
Some complain about VOIP call quality — in the calls I’ve made so far, it’s been okay for me. I haven’t yet tried it with a lot of network traffic going on. Theoretically QOS should ensure it’s okay, but it’ll be interesting to see how well that works in practice.
They note that calls to 13 numbers don’t necessarily go to a local branch of the company you’re ringing, unlike those made from conventional fixed lines.
Finally, although you get free national calls to fixed lines, it’s worth being aware that this excludes 1300 and 13 numbers, which are listed at 30 cents each, untimed. What I’ve also found is that some other types of calls cost — I used the 1194 Time service a couple of times to check voice quality without ringing a human. Turns out these cost 35 cents a pop, despite not being listed on the call rates list. Odd.
So far I’m happy, and saving a big heapa money. I wish I’d switched ages ago.
The gigantic transport mural was perhaps one of the best features of the old Spencer Street station. By Harold Freedman, it depicts the first century of Victoria’s transport — from 1835 to 1935. It was commissioned by the state government in 1973, and unveiled in 1978.
Following the rebuilding and (pointless) renaming, it’s been hidden away in the shopping centre where it’s virtually invisible to most people. (But hey, at least it has been retained on public display.)
Here’s how to find it.
Ignore the shops (both open and vacant) and go all the way to the end. Yeah it’s a long way — more than a full city block. (If you’re coming from Lonsdale Street or further north, you can enter part the way along at an entrance at the Spencer/Lonsdale Street intersection.)
Note the top section is private transport, in the middle public transport, and at the bottom is commercial. This, and the history of the mural, is detailed in the helpful explanatory panel.
Update: The mural is included in this Melbourne history app for iTunes and Android.
When I visit the data centre for work, I get my photo taken for a visitor pass. It’s often on a Friday — casual clothes day. The camera (and/or the printer) is black & white, low-resolution, and slightly awkwardly placed.
For some reason, the visitor passes have been accumulating in my desk drawer. Here are the pictures from some of them, stuck together.
They were a little repetitive, so I’ve only included a dozen of them, and I’ve applied some colours to the second row, and on the third row I’ve tried a few visual effects in Paint.Net.
The key difference seems to be that the JB Hifi people know how to set up their TVs.
The Big W people don’t know, or don’t care, that on almost all of the TVs they have on display, the colour is completely distorted.
If you can’t see a display product working properly, why would you buy it there?
In the city tonight…
The Herald Sun paywall launched in March, and offered free 2-month passes. Any word on what’s happened now those have run out?
Strange dream: Woke up with the most enormous sideburns. Struggled to get them removed before having to go to work.
Another dream: Was invited to a very elaborate dinner party at Alan Kohler’s place, which in the dream was in Carnegie around the corner from where I used to live.
Another dream: Woke up to find the kids had re-arranged their bedroom. TARDIS-like, they’d managed to fit furniture into the room that in real life wouldn’t fit in there.
QR-codes in emails now? Really? What use would this be apart from on printouts? And shouldn’t we be discouraging printouts?
I felt like I was being a bandwagon jumper for buying a Beastie Boys the week after Adam Yauch passed-away. I even looked around and found something else I wanted to buy, to try and diffuse the judgement of the JB Hifi checkout person. Oh dear. In retrospect it’s a little like slipping a dirty magazine in between a bunch of nerd mags at the newsagent.
Perhaps the preface for everything on Twitter (indeed everything online) should be: “You may choose to disagree, but my hypothesis is this:”
I first got a CD player in 1988, when they fell below $200 for the first time. It was a CDC brand player (made by Teac), for which I trekked out to KMart at Box Hill. It worked for fifteen years, until 2003 — though its replacement didn’t last that long.
The first CD I bought back in ’88? Abbey Road.
I don’t recall the subsequent early purchases, but I know the rest of The Beatles’ albums and a lot of The Who was in there. In musical terms, I had very narrow interests back then.
I actually still buy CDs, which (mostly) don’t have any DRM hassles, and for older stuff are cheaper than iTunes. I’m also not super-confident my iTunes collection will be intact in another 20 years.
I’d forgotten this. A version of The Police’s stalker song Every Breath You Take — with new lyrics written by the Spitting Image team and sung by Sting. (Don’t be put off by Youtube’s preview frame — it’s not just a credits roll.)
There is some good stuff loosely in this genre these days, but I’m not sure we’ve got the level of no-holds-barred satire that Spitting Image and even our own Gillies Report provided.