Thursday, December 31, 2009

Free Enhancement for your Voicemail with YouMail

How to enhance the voicemail you are getting on your cellular phone? Have you ever think on the endless possibilities of the modern technology to make the voicemail more attractive, easy to use, and customizable? YouMail free services bring you these possibilities at hand.

Main Features:
Visual Voicemail
  • Completely visual - see who called, from where, and even their picture (when before all you had was their number!)
  • Use your smart phone or your computer - or you can still dial in like before (if you feel the need!)
  • Save time - Point, click and play or delete.
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Personal Custom Greetings
  • Easily have different greetings for your sweetie, your friends, your co-workers and your boss.
  • Choose from a library of free greetings or upload any sound file as a greeting.
  • Even use greetings as messages for callers who don't pick up their voicemail!
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Block Unwanted Callers
  • Automatically hang up on unwanted callers before they can leave voicemail.
  • Simple to set up with just one click!
  • Easily let a pesky ex or telemarketer thinks your number is no longer in service.
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The small application can be installed and used at any smart phone for the following platforms: Blackberry, Android, or iPhone.
There are also paid services, which enlarge the spec of the voicemail capabilities, like:

  • Read your messages - almost perfect transcriptions
  • Get organized - virtually unlimited storage
  • Go faster - no advertisements and quicker alerts

Video Presentation:

Yay: Easy to set up, easy-to-read format and allows for personalized greetings for friends, colleagues and even unwanted callers. Users can also access voicemails from an e-mail account.

Nay: We were charged airtime for accessing voicemails, and our voicemail icon alert no longer appeared on our handset. Further, each message carried an advertisement, though it did not get in the way of the message.

We say: YouMail is free. If managing voicemail with an e-mail account is an interest, then this is a good application. It is also works well for users looking to add a personal or hip touch to their voicemail. The company offers greetings that feature celebrities, clips from movies and music. Users can also select standard greetings or record one of their own. A greeting can be selected for each contact, a group that includes family or friends or for calls received from a blocked number or an unwanted caller.

Review: YouMail is available via the company’s Web site, To get an account, YouMail asked for our phone number so an activation code could be texted to our phone. The service then asked for the access code, our name, e-mail address and for a PIN number of our choice. The PIN is used with the e-mail account to log into the site in the future.

With the information, the service could tell who our service provider was and then asked for our handset model. The site gives numerous pictures of handsets and we were able to find our BlackBerry Pearl.

We then called an Orange County, Calif., phone number to activate the account. After the phone was activated, the site then showed how to switch the voicemail number on our handset from the service provider number, which is our phone number, to the California number that we were to call to access our YouMail account. This step was easy and the site provided a step-by-step tutorial that had pictures of the BlackBerry Pearl.

Once we saved the new number, the account was ready. We chose to access voice messages through the handset and with our e-mail account.

Numerous calls to the new voicemail were placed. After each call, a text message was sent to the phone alerting of a missed call. An e-mail was also sent to our account, which was also synched on our BlackBerry. With e-mail, we could listen to messages online and had the option of forwarding the message to contacts. Messages could also be deleted and saved.

We also could customize our greetings. YouMail automatically selected a “smart” greeting for our phone calls. One thing we found great about YouMail is it details where the phone number originates from and in most cases whose number it is. With a smart greeting in place, YouMail automatically acknowledged the person calling by greeting each person by name. For example, a phone call from a colleague’s phone used this smart greeting: “Hello Allie, Gary can’t come to the phone right now. Please leave a message.”

We also could customize a greeting for each contact by personally recording one or making a selection from many that are offered. We customized greetings for a few of our contacts. Greetings can be personal recordings or customized greetings offered online. We kept smart greetings for family but used a greeting from “Seinfeld” for some of our friends.

Through our YouMail account we browsed through a number of greetings that included recordings by celebrities, musicians and clips from movies. Most are free. Some you must pay for, but the Web page to buy a “premium” greeting would not load after numerous attempts.

YouMail also allows customized greetings for calls that are blocked or from someone you no longer wish to talk to, a former girlfriend or boyfriend perhaps. With “DitchMail,” an unwanted caller can’t leave a message after listening to a greeting set up for that number. We set up DitchMail using our work phone number. We selected a custom greeting that included the words “don’t ever call again.” Each time we called our phone from the work number this greeting was used.

The only drawback we could see with YouMail is the message alerts come with advertisements. The advertisements don’t really get in the way of reading the call details but are hard to ignore. Advertisements ranged from technical colleges to a pajamagram for Valentine’s Day. The other drawback was that the voicemail alert icon on our BlackBerry Pearl stopped working. New voicemail notifications were lumped in with the “envelope” icon that also contained text messages or e-mail notifications.

If all this is just too much customization, YouMail offers an easy way to delete the account and restore previous settings. After asking why we were deleting our account, YouMail told us to call *73. After the call was placed, our previous voicemail was back in place.

Like what you read? Sign up for free at

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

External Hard Drive Preventive Maintenance

You want to keep your Hard Drive with all important data in best shape? Danz Family provides you detailed step-by-step instructions on how to do so, with nice illustration of all steps. But before starting to follow the instructions, read the manual to the end first! Please!

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Many of the problems encountered by users of hard drive storage devices can be avoided by simple annual maintenance. You clean and maintenance your car and other things around the house, why should your hard drive be any different? You've defragged, run other maintenance programs, but have you bothered to open it up and give it a good cleaning? For optimal hard drive performance, follow the easy steps below. (As always, read through all the instructions before beginning.)

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Gently pry around the edges of your hard drive case and separate the cover from the main unit. It just pops off. Don't worry about any small plastic pieces that break off, they won't affect anything.

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Time to start unscrewing screws! These are the easy ones, a simple Phillips screwdriver will do the trick.

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Keep going, some of the screws are a little hidden. Be sure to save the screws for reassembly later.

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Finally, we get everything unscrewed and unplugged from the hard drive, wrapped in thick foil in the center.

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Carefully peal away the thick sticky foil from the hard drive.

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Once you get all the foil off, you'll have to remove the screws from the hard drive itself. Some are hidden under stickers and all are the uncommon torx type. By this point you've probably figured out that the manufacturer hasn't made it easy for you to perform maintenance on your hard drive. Duh, that's because they are in the business of selling hard drives! Imagine if other manufacturers could convince consumers never to clean or maintain their product? What a scam!

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Here's one of the hard drive's reading/writing heads. Oops, is that a scratch? Ha, ha, don't worry, modern drive's aren't affected by little surface scratches. Have you ever seen the back of some CD's and how scratched up they are but still play perfectly? Hard drives are far more technologically advanced and are even less affected by simple surface scratches.

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In fact, feel free to scratch up the surface all you want. At this point in the process, I can promise you, you won't adversely affect the hard drive's performance. Some people like to scratch in the date, so they can tell the next time they open up their hard drive when the last time was that they cleaned it.

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If you happen to bend the read/write head, don't worry, just bend it back. Be sure to press it down real good so it's as close as possible to the drive's surface.

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Time to give everything a good wash! A little dish soap, some warm water and a scrub brush. Don't hold back with the elbow grease! Give it a good scrubbing.

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Finally, you may find that some of the parts have worked themselves loose and are just spinning around uncontrolled. Good thing we caught this before it completely spun itself apart! Get yourself a hammer or a hatchet and pound them down until they are solidly in place. Once everything dries, reverse the steps to reassemble your hard drive.

In the first paragraph I promised "optimal hard drive performance." Following the steps above is the only way to absolutely guarantee you will never again loose valuable data and time to a failed hard drive. I know I'm certain the drive pictured will never again cause me problems!!! Not to mention, sometimes it just feels good to get "hands on."

As you might understand already, this manual is a pure joke. If you follow it precisely, you may be confident that your data is lost forever. Actually, simply opening the Hard Drive at your home environment will make a trick. The dust contamination will make it absolutely un-useful and unrecoverable. So, what can you do externally to keep the Hard Drive in best shape? I do not mean useful software to clean, defragment, and fix error. I really mean – externally. If the Hard Drive is internal, use vacuum cleaner once a while to remove dust from inside the PC. Be careful not to touch any wiring thou. If the drive is external, assure the adequate ventilation and fresh air access. Do not keep it on the mild surface, which might cause its overheating.

I also found that in spite of the fact that some of the external drives are designed to be positioned vertically as well, it is preferable to keep it horizontally, when the spinning forces less affect the internal mechanics.

And, no matter what you do, and how careful you are, keep the backup of the most valuable information!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

63 Freeware Utilities and Plugins for Skype Users

Skype is accepted leader in the free IP telephone services in the world, allowing cutting significantly the phone bills to the domestic and international communication. While not all the features are free, there is a solid basic set that makes it a valuable addition to all the computer users. The following features are free:

1. Skype-to-Skype phone calls (through PC and smartphones).
2. Transfer calls to people on Skype.
3. Video calls.
4. Instant messaging and group IMs.
5. Conference calls.
6. Forward calls to people on Skype.

While there are already quite a lot of similar services on the Web, the Skype usefulness is based on its popularity and huge membership base, making it easy to find there your friends and relatives.

I have prepared a new Rating List at RateItAll, offering listing and reviews of the third-party free software utilities, allowing enhancing the features provided by basic Skype services. As of today, there are 63 freeware utilities and plugins are represented with website links, ratings, and brief reviews.

Review the Rating List at:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Google Bing “Kitchen” Introduced Social Search

In November launched the social revolution for search. Microsoft’s Bing fired the first shot by announcing search deals with Twitter and Facebook and, at the Web 2.0 Summit, launching its Twitter integration. Google fired back almost immediately though, completing its own deal with Twitter and, perhaps more importantly, announcing a new feature: Social Search.

Social search, demoed at the Web 2.0 Summit by Google’s VP of Search Marissa Mayer, combines results from your friend’s blogs, Flickr, Twitter, FriendFeed, and a wide variety of other social media sites (so long as your friends have connected their social accounts to their Google profiles) with Google’s regular search results. The feature will go live this afternoon, and can be found within Google Labs.

The experimental feature, once activated, will display relevant search results from your social circle at the bottom of the search results page. This could be travel photos from your friends, a recent blog post, a set of status updates, or other information Google pulls.

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Google’s gurus Amit Singhal, Matt Cutts, and Murali Viswanathan admitted that they have been playing with the feature for several months, and it has been an eye-opening experience. Just imagine searching for pictures of Thailand and getting a set of photos from your best friend from last summer. It just means more.

For now, the feature is opt-in, only affects certain searches, and appear at the bottom of the search results page. However, we won’t be surprised if Social Search results start blending into regular search higher up the page. After all, your social circle is often far more relevant than even the top Wikipedia article on a subject. Google seems to betting on it in a big way.

Here’s a demo of social search from Google:

Source: Mashable
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