One Ringy Dingy


Last month, I canceled my phone service to cut costs and to get ready for my winter move to Montpelier. I still had the cell phone, but soon found that I talked more than I thought I did. The monthly minutes quickly ran out and I had to recharge – and spent almost as much as I would have spent had I kept the landline. Live and learn.

As an alternative, I bought a magicJack at my local Radio Shack (not a typo – the J is the only capitalized letter) This is a little item that looks like a tiny Altoids box that plugs into the USB port of your computer and allows you to make phone calls without a service. Basically, one payment gets you the tin can and the string to use it.

I hooked it up and the software program instructed me to pick a number in the state of my choice. Vermont was not an option. Bummer. So I decided to pick a number in my birthplace of Illinois, so my mother could call me without paying long distance charges (can we say, beat the man?). I plugged my phone into the tin can and a few minutes later, I was up and running.

Rest assured, I am not being paid to give you this information, and I paid for my magicJack. So, now I can go on. There are a few quirks to this little gadget. Sometimes it works well, and no one knows I am calling through my computer. And it is a great little item to take on a trip, so you can hook up the hotel phone and call without added charges. But it seems that after it warms up a little (I wonder if it has cockles?) it gets randy. Jack likes to cut you off in the middle of an intense conversation. But the funny thing is, you can still hear the other person. They sound pathetic, calling out, “Hello? Hello, are you there?” And, thinking that you can’t hear them either, they often break into some colorful language that would be spelled with all the symbols above the numbers on the computer keyboard.

And sometimes, one or both of the people on the phone will begin to sound like Cher. Not her normal voice, which wouldn’t be that bad. More like her voice when she sings “Believe.” Pretty cool, except when it happens during a business call. Then I have to tell the caller, “excuse me, Bob Mackie’s clicking in on the other line. I’ll call you right back.”

The magicJack takes voice messages for you, too, just like a landline phone. You receive an email (from either magic or Jack – they are so hard to tell apart) that has a wav file attached, so you can hear the voicemail directly from your computer. When I open them it reminds me of Ron Weasley in Harry Potter, getting the Howler message from his mother.

So, all in all, the magicJack is worth the price. But I think there is a new phone plan in my future. Until then, I got you, babe.


3 responses »

  1. If you call their service desk or go to their online chat (click on help and it takes you to the site) they can walk you through a couple of port settings that are specific to your machine.
    I did mine and it works much better after that. It still gets choppy at times and many times it decides that 30 mins on the phone with one party is enough and cuts you off unceremoniously. (Jack probably needs to rest after gettin a 30 min earful of “talking”)
    Alternatively you could call johnzy’s service desk.

  2. Hi Rosie,
    I would suggest checking out the new calling plans for the larger cell providers like Att and Verizon. They just last week lowered their price for the unlimited calling plan to $69.99 mth if you only have one phone number.

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