Small Business Internet Phone Service

A good phone number is still one of the principal methods of doing business. Most small business still list the phone number in yellow pages or other small business listing service. A phone number allows your customers to reach you about your store hours, store locations, and available services. A good domain name, Twitter account, and Facebook page are important but a business phone number is essential.

There are a lot of online services that can help you manage your phone line and number for your small business. At this point I would not use a fixed land line, but a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) service to provide all my telephony needs. The primary phone number I give personal friends and contacts to reach me is provided by Google Voice. For my small home business, I use Skype phone service. And there are other telephony services that can be useful for small business owners.

What I like about Google Voice is that your GVoice phone number can be forwarded to any other phone, or multiple phones. You customers call you at your GVoice phone number and Google forwards the call to your cell phone, store phone number, or any other number until someone answers it or it goes to voice mail. If the call goes to voice mail Google will transcribe the message and email you the text transcription.

I also use Skype and have a Skype Call-out account which provides me a phone number where my customers can reach me at from a cell phone or landline. In addition, Skype also has some great chat messaging, video conference, screen sharing, and collaboration option that make it an integral solution for my small business communication needs.

Yahoo! has the Yahoo! Voice phone service that fits somewhere between Google Voice and Skype. All of these services can be managed and used to call out and receive calls on your smart phone. The iPhone and Android app for Google Voice allows you to call out and receive calls. In the US, the iPhone app for Skype only allows you to call out when you are on a WiFi internet access.

The one feature I really wish either Google Voice, Skype, or Yahoo! Voice had was the ability to send and receive faxes. Fax support is a popular and commonly request feature in Google Voice that I think that Google will build support for it but there are other online telephony services that already include this feature.

Ring Central is a paid mobile business phone system that includes internet fax services. You don’t need a fax machine in your office to send and receive fax documents. Ring Central also provides a 1 800 toll free number. In addition to Ring Central, I would consider Grasshopper. Grasshopper is a virtual phone system designed for businesses and entrepreneurs. Grasshopper has toll free numbers, unlimited extension, call forwarding, voicemails transcriptions, and other feature suitable for small to mid-sized companies.

Slave Technology

As a people, we are becoming more reliant and dependent on technology, such as smart phones, laptops, web services, printers, etc. But this technology that we depend on can be used to turn against us. Government agencies and organized groups, such as the MPAA and RIAA, routinely use vulnerabilities, back doors, rootkits, identifying attributes, and other information in our technology to track, monitor, retaliate, and incriminate you.

Examples of slave technology include all of Google’s products. Google’s search engine tracks individuals via unique identifying IDs in cookies and singed-on sessions and saves all searches associated with those IDs. Even if you are not signed into Google’s other products like GMail, your online searches conducted on Google search are stored and associated with a unique identifier associated with your computer. You can try to delete your browser’s cookies, but if they wanted to they could use your IP address to track you.

In layman’s terms, the IP address of your computer is much like your home address. It uniquely identifies your computer in the internet. Your ISP, such as Comcast or AT&T, provided you with an IP address automatically when you connect to the internet. Every time you visit a website, your IP address is typically logged along with the pages you viewed. The IP address is the typical way to identify individuals based on blog comments, Facebook accounts, or emails messages that most users think are anonymous. Simply put there is no such time as being anonymous in the internet. You are being watched. Some groups, most notably the government, want to introduce a Internet ID or true identity for your online usage. If such a ID program would come to passed, you can quickly imagine the associated fees, taxes, renewal process, and the fact that your access could be revoked for some bureaucratic reason.

The government is not the only one tracking you, in fact advertisers have the most to gain from your online usage. Have you ever noticed how some online ads seem to know your location? I’ve noticed this more from Groupon ads where they post ads on random deals in my home town. How does Groupon know my hometown if I am not a member? I’ve never even been to their site so how do they know my location. Groupon and other advertisers use techniques involving your IP address and cookies to try to track what sites you’ve visited, what search terms you were recently looking for, and other identifying information.

In addition to an IP address, if you are using an iPhone you can also be transmitting the phone’s UDID. Th iPhone UDID is a unique identifier that app developers have access that uniquely identifies one iPhone from the millions of others.

You might not have suspected this, but even your printer is designed to turn you in. It is widely known that some models of printers print hard to see patterns of yellow dots in documents. These patterns can then be used to to match printed documented to a specific printer.

There is a lot more than just technology, but information you provide or is collected from or about you by mobile and personal devices and website operators is used. For example, in California police officers don’t need a search warrant to go through the contents of your cell phone or other devices that were confiscated at the time of your arrest. So if they find incriminating information about you, even about a case different from the one you were originally detained or arrested for, this can be used against you. Another example is how Facebook gives access to third-party developers and advertisers of personal information, such as email and phone numbers of it’s users. So now, Facebook advertisers can target you with their ads inside and outside of Facebook, in your email inbox, etc.