Is social media relevant? If it's current popularity as anything to gauge it by, then the answer is yes.
A recent article on VentureBeat gives some fascinating insight into how popular the different social media platforms are. In a mere 60 seconds the following happens:
- 2 million videos viewed on YouTube
- 700,000 messages sent on Facebook
- 175,000 tweets on Twitter
- 7,610 searches on LinkedIn
- 2,000 check-ins on Foursquare
As a business, if you aren't getting your name out there socially, you really are missing out on a very cost effective advertising platform.
UPDATE: After some feedback from readers about being charged even with NZ Best Mate, I spoke with resident Vodafone guru johnr. NZ Best Mate and best mate don't apply to redirected calls. The only way to get this for free is to have it come out of any free minutes you receive per month. Thanks to everyone who emailed me about it, and to John for clarifying. Apologies for errors in this post.
I loathe Vodafone's (Telecom/2degrees are just as bad) voicemail system. I have no issues with paying $0.20 to access it, it's just navigating it using a phone's keypad seems so antiquated. Smart phones are now more prevalent than ever so there should be an app/menu that allows you to easily navigate voicemails, save them, delete them etc. Pressing 1,2,3 # to navigate messages, remembering which message you are on, and jumping between messages is as hard as getting sbiddle to shout you a beer.
The closest I could get to an improvement on the voicemail system was messagePage, where an operator answers your calls and sends the details in a SMS. It worked well for some time, but the costs rack up quickly if your calling volume is high.
The best solution is voicemail-to-email. You can store them, delete them, and forward to a colleague if required. Until johnr and his boys enable this in the Vodafone core, I have a dirty hack to get this going. You will need NZBestMate enabled on your mobile.
1. Sign up to 2talk's Go Free plan.
It'll cost you nothing a month as we are using them purely for inbound calls, not outbound. Keep track of the 028 number, we'll need this later.
2. Enable Do Not Disturb
Login to the 2Talk portal, and under the column marked Inbound Calls click Do Not Disturb.
Under Do Not Disturb tick Enable Do not Disturb Service and click Save Options. This will force all calls to your new 028 number to go to voicemail.
3. Setup voicemail service
Now that 2Talk will be handling your voicemail, you need to setup your greetings. You can either have 2Talk call you to record, or upload an MP3.
In the field Send a copy of my voicemail messages to the following email address: enter the email you want your voicemails to go to.
4. Call Vodafone to setup NZBestMate
Call 777 and give them your new 028 number. This will zero rate any calls made from your mobile to your 2Talk number.
5. Setup voicemail redirection on your phone
This is tricky as it varies from phone to phone. On my Galaxy SII, it's under Settings > Call > Call forwarding > Voice call. Modify busy, unanswered and unreachable to be your 2Talk number.
Do a couple of test calls to make sure it all works. I've had this setup for a few months now - mine is slightly different as my 028 number registers to work, and my voicemails go through our VoIP PBX, but exactly the same concept.
The best thing is: I never have to use Vodafone's voicemail system ever again.
The Vodafone Sure Signal is a femtocell, which is a small cellular base station that you run at home/work to improve your Vodafone coverage (you must have Vodafone ADSL). I run one of these at home, as I have good coverage outside, but no coverage inside. The Sure Signal means I don't have to run outside at all hours, to make and receive calls.
About two weeks ago I received this email (I've shortened it somewhat):
Great news! You will soon receive a Sure Signal upgrade. This free upgrade means you'll enjoy the great mobile reception you're used to with Sure Signal in a sleek new device, plus it'll prepare you for quicker data speeds on your mobile with our next network upgrade in the new year.
The new device will be couriered out to you in the next couple of weeks. So keep an eye out for the courier and you'll soon be enjoying all the benefits of our new and improved Sure Signal service.
The courier pack arrived at the glorious hour of 8am this morning. The new Sure Signal is a much nicer looking, and a much smaller unit (new one on the left):
The new one is manufactured by Alcatel-Lucent (old one was Sagemcom), and has a Ethernet pass through port if you're not running a switch. The new one also doesn't sit upright, with the stand making it lean back slightly:
The unit was dispatched from Brightpoint, with a return courier back to send the old unit back.
The best thing about upgrading to the new Sure Signal is how quick and painless it was - unplug the old unit, plug in the new one: done. No port forwards on the router or any other configurations, the unit just works. Surprisingly, it works with my Draytek modem, even though it's not the standard Vodafone ADSL modem that was provided.
If you have one of the old Sure Signals, and haven't received a new one in a few weeks, it might pay to contact Vodafone - the cover letter indicated the old Sure Signals won't be supported past April 2012.
I'm a big fan of the Sure Signal, and have recommended them to friends and family who have coverage issues. The investment in one is not much, it uses very little power and the data it uses is zero rated.
Thanks Vodafone for the free upgrade!
Have a great break over Christmas/New Years everyone.
Here at 3Bit we use Google Hosted Apps for email and calendar. For the past four years it has worked without any dramas.
We heavily use the Google Groups function. This allows you to have an alias, such as sales, support, info etc to forward to a group of mailboxes. Trying to send an email to sales (at) 3bit.com was giving us this strange bounce error:
Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:
sales (at) 3bit.com
Technical details of permanent failure:
Message rejected by Google Groups. Please visit http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=188131 to review our Bulk Email Senders Guidelines.
A couple days back, when trying to login to the Google control panel, it asked for us to upgrade, which I agreed to. I thought the above error was a mis-configuration from the upgrade, so I deleted all our groups and re-added them - emails were still bouncing.
After spending most of today trying a multitude of different things, I stumbled across this answer:
I suggest you enable Google groups for business in your control panel dashboard. Click 'Add Services' when viewing your dashboard.
Once you have done this, disable Spam filtering in each of the affected groups. You can do this in the 'Spam Controls' tab in your group settings. Select the option 'post them to the group'.
This will fix the issue.
In the Google control panel, click Organisation & Users > (your domain) > Services. Scroll down the list and find Google Groups and make sure it's set to On.
For some reason, during the upgrade, ours switched off, and was causing the bounce messages above. Hopefully this post saves someone from hours of cursing and shaking their fist at Google.
(for non-programmer folks, != means does not equal)
I've had a little time up my sleeves lately, so I decided to get my hands dirty and code up an application that would send and receive SMS messages. Based on the advice of Geekzone guru sbiddle, I bought a Wavecom GSM modem (USB model) and dropped in a 2degrees SIM.
Doing some research, I found a handful of existing programs that would do the send/receive I wanted, but they were all too expensive (for example, ActiveXperts SMS component, US$795). Using a standard COM port, I control the modem using the standard AT+ commands, that most (if not all) GSM modems support. My thinking was that if I made the program light-weight, send/receive of SMS would be lightning fast.
I wrote a pretty straight forward, basic program - when a message is received, it logs it to a SQL Server database, does some processing, and then fires back a reply - this is where I came unstuck.
I've had the luxury of using commercial SMS gateways before. They are super fast, and very reliable however you pay for the convenience. Trying to replicate this cheaply using a GSM modem is just not possible.
The biggest issue I encountered is speed. The modem can only work as fast as the connecting network will allow. Trying to send a message while the modem is already sending one will cause it to jam; the same happens for receiving multiple messages concurrently. If you have a time sensitive application, this method is just too slow.
I also discovered interesting delays between Vodafone and 2degrees. Sending a SMS message from my mobile (Vodafone) to the GSM modem (2degrees) would take around 25-30 seconds to arrive, however the reverse worked much faster at an average of 4 seconds.
My recommendation: if you want speed and reliability, go with a commercial SMS gateway provider (and be prepared for an light/empty wallet). For less time sensitive applications, a GSM modem will do just fine.