Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) delivers scalable, pay-as-you-go compute capacity in the cloud. It is a part of a collection of remote computing services (also called web services) from Amazon that together make up a cloud computing platform. The most central and well-known of these services are Amazon EC2 and Amazon S3. The goal in this post is to get you up and running on an EC2 instance super fast.
I’m going to assume you have an account with AWS and are familiar with:
If you do not know those 3, please spend some time learning about them by following the links in the bullet points above. Else, let’s get rollin.
Step by step guide
1. Setting up security
Before we launch an Instance you need to do some Pre-work since both “Security Group” and “Key Pair Name” cannot be changed once an Instance is mapped to one and started.
Setup a “Security Group” for your new Linux Instance.
From Navigation menu select “Security Groups”.
Click on “Create Security Group” button and fill out the form giving your security group a very descriptive name.
Click “Yes, Create” button, select the new group and in the lower half window/frame press the “Inbound” tab.
Inbound allows you to open ports on this Instance. You can add or remove these after the Instance is created. By default allow these: SSH (22), HTTP (80) and MySQL (3306). For extra security limit (source) SSH & MySQL to only your IP address. If you plan to install Webmin add port 10000 here too.
When done, click on “Apply Rule Changes”.
Create a “Key Pair Name”.
This is super important and will be used for accessing your Instance both via SSH & sFTP.
From Navigation menu select “Key Pairs”.
Click on “Create Key Pair” button.
Give it a descriptive Key Pair Name and click on “Create” button. A private key with extension .pem will download. Save this in a secure location since this is your key to access your Instance.
On your local machine (Linux X or Mac OS X), give this file more secure permissions like this:
chmod 0700 ./keys/mykey.pem
2. Launching an Instance
From Navigation menu select “Instances”.
Click on “Launch Instance” button.
This launches the Request Instance Wizard where you can select an Amazon Machine Image (AMI). Note that Ubuntu is only available from “Community AMIs”. Click the Community AMIs tab.
Step through the 5 stages of the Wizard and click on “Launch” button. This will launch your new Instance. The Wizard is straight forward and you will most likely go with all the defaults.
Your Linux Instance will launch pretty fast. You should now see your Instance listed under “My Instances”.
Click on your Instance. Instance properties window/frame shows up in the bottom half of the console. Note down “Public DNS” and “Private DNS/IP Address”. You will need those to access the box – especially the Public DNS.
3. Building a Ubuntu LAMP Web Server on your new Instance
Use the Public DNS or setup a static IP address to point to your Instance(s). Amazon calls this Elastic IP Address and this allows you to have multiple Instances all pointing to the 1 IP address for dynamic cloud computing.
Now go and build kick ass products!
There you have it folks. How simple is that. Amazon makes cloud computing look simple and launching new servers (Instances) is a breeze.. in a matter of minutes.
If you found this post useful let me know in comments section below. Super!!
Recently I was setting up my Mac OS X with a kick ass development environment and jotted down all the cool steps I took to build an Ubuntu LAMP web server in a virtual machine environment. Here is this in-depth guide translated from paper to this digital copy. Hope you find this guide valuable and it saves you time when you need to do the same.
The flavor of Linux I like to use as a Web Server is Ubuntu.
What is Ubuntu
Ubuntu , is a secure, intuitive operating system that powers desktops, servers, netbooks and laptops. It is based on the Debian GNU/Linux distribution. Ubuntu is also named after the Southern African ethical ideology Ubuntu (“humanity towards others”) and is distributed as free and open source software with additional proprietary software available.
Reduce costs – free to use with no licensing fees.
Visualization – it runs beautifully & fast in any VM environment (esp. Mac OS X)
Build-in security – tight security, inbuilt firewall and encryption.
This guide assumes you have already installed Ubuntu Server. If not, go here and do it first. I recommend you install Ubuntu Server in a VM. I use VMware Fusion to run my instances when developing and Amazon EC2 for production. This guarantees that whatever I do locally in a VM will be compatible when pushed into production.
Install LAMP – Linux (already done), Apache (web server), MySQL (mysql) and PHP (code compiler).
Install Webmin – a web-based interface for system administration for Unix.
Allow WWW for sFTP so you can remotely manage your website using a GUI.
Setup access to MySQL using MySQL Workbench.
1. Install LAMP
SSH into your box as root on Port 22 (default post install).
Update your OS software (just in case you are missing some dependencies):
sudo apt-get update
From the terminal window, install LAMP using this 1 line of code (the caret (^) must be included):
sudo apt-get install lamp-server^
The apt package manager will display what it is installing and ask you a bunch of standard questions. Just say yes to all. You will also be asked for a password for your new MySQL database. Type that in and note this down for future.
When this finishes you are done. Easy hey! Port 80 (default web server port) is now enabled and pointing to ‘/var/www’. ‘/var/www’ is where your site(s) should be placed.
Hit the Public DNS URL of your server (typically your IP) to verify that it’s up. It should show up a page with “It works!” If you are not sure what your box’s IP is, type this in and hit enter (similar to ipconfig on a Windows box).
Before moving to the next step, you may want to know information about PHP’s configuration inc. installed extensions. You can grab this by creating a PHP file from your terminal window like this:
sudo nano /var/www/phpinfo.php
then adding this into it, save it, and quit nano (the editor your in):
<?php phpinfo(); ?>
sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart
Hit the IP in your browser again with this new file name appended to the end eg. http://220.127.116.11/phpinfo.php – it should show you what is running.
2. Install Webmin
Edit “/etc/apt/sources.list” to add 2 new source:
sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list
… add these 2 new lines to the end, save and exit:
deb http://download.webmin.com/download/repository sarge contrib
deb http://webmin.mirror.somersettechsolutions.co.uk/repository sarge contrib
Now you can run this in your terminal window to install Webmin.
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install webmin
Webmin should now be accessible from your browser using the server’s ip address followed by port 10,000 eg. https://18.104.22.168:10000
Note that you do not have HTTPS cert so your browser will throw a warning since https is (and has to be) the protocol. Ignore it and move forward.
OR if the username is “existing” one use the command below. Also don’t forget to add “ubuntu” user if you have set this up on an EC2:
sudo usermod -a -G www-data EXISTING_USERNAME
You should now be able to SFTP to your server using this USERNAME and upload data to “/var/www” with no problems.
4. Access to MySQL using MySQL Workbench
MySQL Workbench is a nice free GUI tool by the folks at mysql.com to manage your MySQL database. It can be downloaded from here: http://wb.mysql.com/
By default MySQL listens on localhost (127.0.0.1) so if you are going to manage your Ubuntu VM instance from say OS X, MySQL wont allow you entry. Here’s what to do to grant remote management of MySQL.
Go to Webmin and login.
In Webmin, navigate here: Servers > MySQL Database Server > MySQL Server Configuration
Change “MySQL server listening address” to “Any”. By default it is 127.0.0.1. Save this.
Now navigate here: Servers > MySQL Database Server > User Permissions
Click on User “root” on the line where it says 127.0.0.1. And under Hosts change it to “Any”. This set the permissions on your db access.
Save & Restart MySQL and you are done.
Remember that this is for “development” purposes only. You would not be allowing “Any” to your DB rather a specific static address and username.
5. Bonus – running multiple web applications on the LAMP instance
To save on time, money and managing multiple boxes, you may want to run multiple websites from this same box. I like to do this using ports as the separator. The following can be done in Webmin:
Upload code to /var/www/mynewsite/
Create a Virtual host for your new web application by navigating to:
Servers > Apache Webserver > Create virtual host
Fill out the form pointing ‘Document Root’ to the location of your code and assign a ‘Port’ number eg. 81, to this new host. Remember port 80 is your default.
Save and click on ‘Apply Settings’ (link top right of the Webmin interface).
Finally you need to tell Apache to listen to this new port. Navigate here:
Servers > Apache Webserver > Global configuration > Networking and Addresses
Add port 81 (where your new host is configured on) to ‘Listen on addresses and ports’.
Save, apply changes and restart Apache.
Done. You can now access your website via http://IP_DNS:81
Now go and build kick ass products!
There you have it folks. How simple is that. That’s why I love Ubuntu so much. It’s simple and powerful all under the 1 umbrella. That’s how software should be. All the complexities removed so us engineers can get to work and build kick ass products!
If you found this post useful let me know in comments section below. Super!!
I finally made the switch from Windows Vista to Linux Free Operating System. I moved to the Kubuntu version of Ubuntu 10.10 (a Linux flavour) as my development box and haven’t looked back. Well I lied, since I did look back a bit at the beginning lol. It has been a an interesting challenge mentally adjusting to new way of doing things, new tools (applications) and driver support. In the end it was definitely worth it.
And why Kubuntu? since it’s basically Ubuntu a Debian-derived Linux distribution with KDE (a prettier desktop) on-top. Ubuntu brings your slower machines to life. While Windows keeps on slowing them down. Ubuntu is a secure, intuitive operating system that powers desktops, servers, netbooks and laptops. Ubuntu is, and always will be, absolutely free. More about it here.
Why I switched
Today all my development is open source. This means I run what I create on a LAMP stack – L stands for Linux Server. Doing development on a Windows box and pushing to a LAMP stack is like clawing your way through quick sand instead of using a ninja sword to slice through your tasks.
One day, I asked myself. Wouldn’t it be kick ass if my dev box would be close to identical to my production boxes. Knowing that whatever I do on my dev box will work in production with high certainty. Yes yes, Ubuntu popped into my mind. Which later after speaking with a fellow Linux hacker changed to Kubuntu.
As you may already know, Kubuntu is highly configurable. You even have access to the source code if you wish to venture that deep. It also has a great X window called KDE. Check out these top the winners from a 5-day competition on Facebook where fans were invited to submit a screenshot of their pimped Ubuntu desktop. No excuses about Ubuntu’s poor UI.
Linux apps to replace your Windows apps
Here is a comprehensive list of apps to replace your Windows versions.
Note: Most applications & games on Linux are open source. This mostly means free. Thus, the ones I listed below as alternatives in the Linux world are all free and can be downloaded from your package manager. I use Synaptic Package Manager (SPM). All the software here is verified and malicious free – it’s safe to get all your apps from here. To install SPM, in your terminal window type this in and your done. Simple eh.
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install synaptic
Security – this one just kills windows. Ubuntu comes with a firewall built in and windows viruses – what are they on Ubuntu – non existent. All you need is software like Gufw to help you “manage” your firewall else you can do it via the terminal / konsole window.
In your terminal window type this in and your done. This cannot get any harder 😉
sudo apt-get install gufw
And if you want hard-core detail on securing Ubuntu, read this post covers the process of securing and hardening the default Debian GNU/Linux distribution installation.
Applications… the following let’s use “Synaptic Package Manager”.
Additional stuff you can install to make your Kubuntu experience pleasing:
Don’t forget to use your Synaptic Package Manager to look for these apps first. Only when you cannot find them there click on the title of each app below to take you to the website hosting the app and instructions.
Docky – shortcut bar that sits at the bottom, top, and/or sides of your screen. You can make it look and behave like mac’s bar.
KSnapshot – simple & powerful easy to use screen capture program.
Ubuntu Tweak – tweak Ubuntu’s desktop and system options that the default desktop environment doesn’t provide.
JetBrain. Their professional developer tools are kickass! I have trialled their PHPStorm & ReSharper with positive results. They also have editors for Ruby & Python (shakes of excitement). It’s not free but they do have trial versions available for download.
Dropbox – Online backup, file sync, and sharing made easy. Get it here: http://db.tt/QDC0nvU
ubuntu-restricted-extras – Essential software which is not already included due to legal or copyright reasons. Gives support for MP3 playback and decoding, Java runtime environment, Microsoft fonts, Flash plugin, DVD playback, and LAME (to create compressed audio files).
If you still miss or cannot find your favorite Windows applications on Kubuntu, you install Wine to run them on Kubuntu. Wine is a program that offers a compatibility layer allowing Linux users to run some Windows-native applications inside of Linux. You can get Wine from Synaptic Package Manager / package manager or by following the instructions here.
Stuff I still need my Windows box for
Photo editing – Photoshop and Lightroom and
Video editing – Sony Vegas (goes with my Sony HD cam). The Linux alternative Kdenlive just dosent cut it.
With time I’m sure a super duper speced up Mac (with Dual boot for Kubuntu) will replace both my laptops. Now I need to sell myself why I should move to a Mac and pay double the price for hardware.
PS. If you have suggestions or additions to this post please comment below or contact me.
Jim Rohn said “All Leaders Are Readers”. There is definately something in that famous quote which rings a bell with those who are frequent readers. Reading stimulates the cortex and also brings a sense of pleasure of attaining more knowledge. Well to me anyways. If you have read my personal blog on experiments in Personal Development, Productivity & Inner Peace then you will know where I am coming from.
I read alot. Books and online – daily! Plenty of tech news, blogs, science & psychology sites and other places which bring value to me. So this leaves my Firefox browser looking like this:
A total mess with dozen of tabs open. Since there is no way I will get through all the articles within the same gap of time that these are open in, I will need to either close the browser (saving the tabs) or leave it running letting Firefox chew up my computer’s memory. Not to mention this method is “Anti” David Allen’s GTD (Getting Things Done) time management for productivity success and increased focus. Yes, I’m a GTD fan. So, what to do. As per the GTD teachings, offload the stuff that I cannot read in the near future for later processing (reading). But with what?
Instapaper – A simple tool to save web pages for reading later
How it works
Instapaper gives you a Read Later bookmark (see Firefox screenshot above).
1. When you find something you want to read, but you don’t have time, click Read Later.
2. Then when you have time use any of the following devices Computer, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Kindle and ePub readers to read those articles nicely formatted and filtered for pure content.
As shown above, the iPhone (and iPad) Instapaper application downloads all the articles onto your device so that you can read those articles where internet is not available.
Simple and my reading habits now follow the GTD teachings. Cool hey.
Examples of how I use it
Sometimes at night in bed I read through 1 or 2 articles before falling asleep. The alternative to reading a book in bed before bedtime. Tools: Kindle / iPad.
Walking to work. My walk is 15 minutes and I can squizz in 2-3 articles and catchup on the latest tech trends. Also gives me some topics to discuss at work over that water-cooler or share tech info with my engineering team. Tool: iPhone.
Fill in time – anything from when I’m taking a break from coding to waiting for someone. Why burn time on unproductive thoughts when you can learn something new. Tools: Computer / iPhone.
Startup School 2010 was a success! both on the quality of the turn out of entrepreneurs, speakers and the organizers – Y Combinator and Stanford BASES.
The day started on a nice crispy Saturday morning 16th October 2010. Breakfast was provided to all those that attended while the Dinkelspiel Auditorium at Stanford University was prepared.
The theater got packed out with many great minds of all ages – even entrepreneurs 12 years of age eager to start changing the world. The following are notes I took during each of the speeches + video. Hope you enjoy the content and find it as valuable and inspiring as I did.
Wow, what a great start to this day. Andy went over how Silicon Valley got to where it is today and then touched up on the following interesting topics:
The process in creating a business is in 3 steps: Discover –> Design –> Deliver
“Discover” phase has more value but typically less money is spent while moving to the right to “Deliver” has less value but more money is spent on it.
“The Horizon Effect”, also a topic in psychology, outlines how the majority of humans only purse goals which are in our horizon, stuff we can see, instead of stuff we cannot see. Aim past the horizon like Christopher Columbus did when he sailed past to the horizon only to find that he would not fall off the edge of the world.
Apple – spends the least on R&D ($1.2b) and consumer research. They trust their gut instinct to deliver super products. They also have less products to maintain than most companies.
Google – expects to solve the impossible. Most of their success today is attributed to the 1 day per week given to their employees to brain storm & prototype new ideas.
Innovation is the never-ending search for better solutions.
Most successful companies have more than 1 founder.
The best way to have a good idea is to have plenty of ideas.
When something makes you angry, write it down. Then find a solution to fix it – that’s an idea right there. The question then becomes “how do you filter many ideas into a few to action”.
Key to business traction: Make someone awesome so that they show it to their friends who too want to become awesome. Hence they end up using your product.
Finding a good co-founder is like there is now 2 of you doing this.
Early on you don’t need offices, go virtual with a product like CampFire.
Private offices eliminate idea generation and progress. It is detrimental.
User “Experience” is the most relevant, not the technology. You are selling the experience not the technology.
As a founder, optimize your business venture for happiness. Read book “Drive” which outlines 3 human needs: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. Seek Freedom and Autonomy.
In the end, you want to have a choice and be happy about it.
Over drinks (after work) is where most ideas come from. People are more relaxed and free to let their imagination run wild.
Establish a business agreement (contract) at the very beginning of your venture. This should outline who does what and equity split. This eliminates nasty legal issues once the business becomes successful.
Books recommended by Tom for every entrepreneur to read:
Provide a service where users are happy and then monetize.
Entrepreneurs build and innovate companies and investors should be lucky to be a part of it.
Never forget its your company, the founder’s company.
Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur.
It takes guts but anyone can do it.
It’s crazy to start a company with 1 founder. It’s all about building a great team. And if you are a founder you have to build a great team some day so why not build it the day you start the company – the 1st hurdles to get over.
There is more in the videos below where Ron outlines his journey and the journey of great friends from Napster, Google, Facebook and Twitter.
Don’t be a cannon fodder. Work on things you love. Life is too short.
Key before you start your own music startup:
Artists are poor so they won’t pay you,
The market is totally saturated,
The economies are challenging with required payments to labels every quarter and lawyers waiting for you to become big so they can sue you.
If you want a good laugh and learn heaps about the risks of starting up a music venture then you should watch Dalton’s music business review (videos below) of his 6 years of building Imeem, what worked and what didn’t.
Had many unsuccessful launches but persistence got them through. Paul Graham stated “you guys won’t die, your like cockroaches”.
Michael Seibel from Justin.tv introduced Brian and his co-founder to the Y Combinator methodology and eventually to Paul Graham. Initially, Paul didn’t like the business idea. That changed quickly.
Brian used a classic motivation / psychology approach that Anthony Robbins teaches: “Whatever you focus on expands (you get)”. So he decided to focus on revenue by printing a positively inclined graph depicting revenue and pasting it on the bathroom mirror. This way it was the 1st thing he saw every morning and the last before going to bed to dream. It worked!
Paul Graham advised: “Go to your users”. So Brian and his co-founder flew to NYC, Washington DC and Denver and knocked on people’s doors to sell their service – “do you know how much your bedroom is worth?!”.
Then, David, Barry Manilow’s drummer posted his apartment for rent while he toured with Barry Manilow. This changed the direction of AirBnB and the 1st “wiggles of hope ~ PG” appeared. AirBnB launched version 5 of their product and started to be Ramen Profitable.
Today, AirBnB is in 8200 cities, 166 countries and traffic has started booming in the last 5 months.
AirBnB is now a “Community market place for space”.
All this started with an airbed in a living room to solve an accommodation problem.
The following videos are titled “Powerless and obscure” – 1,000 days ago (October 2007). How Brian started AirBnB and it nearly fell apart only to survive after the 5th launch. Very inspiring and educational.
Yippee!! I have been accepted into Y Combinator’s Startup School 2010!
I stretched in bed as my eyes opened up to be greeted by another beautiful Californian Saturday morning. I reached for my smart phone to check email to see what has happened in the last 5 hours that I was asleep. And there it was. An email from Y Combinator informing me that I have been accepted into Startup School 2010. It couldn’t have come at a better time, only 3 days after my birthday – what a great birthday present. 3 also being my lucky number.
Startup School is an annual event sponsored by both Standford BASES and Y Combinator. To put it simply, Startup School teaches technical people about startups. It is said that “the atmosphere of energy in the room at startup school is something you have to experience to believe” – now I get the opportunity to experience this first hand. I’m thrilled and excited! Thank you Y Combinator for this amazing opportunity.
Who is Y Combinator
Y Combinator is an American seed-stage startup funding firm, started in 2005 by Paul Graham, Robert Morris, Trevor Blackwell, and Jessica Livingston.
“Y Combinator is a new kind of venture firm specializing in funding early stage startups. We help startups through what is for many the hardest step, from idea to company.
We invest mostly in software and web services. And because we are ourselves technology people, we prefer groups with a lot of technical depth. We care more about how smart you are than how old you are, and more about the quality of your ideas than whether you have a formal business plan.” Source: http://ycombinator.com/about.html
Y Combinator is also responsible for the very popular Hacker News. Hacker News is a social news website about computer hacking and startup companies. It is my daily source nutritional intake of mind stimulating content and discussions. I highly recommend this site for anyone interested in startups – http://news.ycombinator.com/
Startup School lineup
The line up of speakers for this day is exhilarating. They include:
I’ll be Tweeting & Facebooking “live” from this event. If you haven’t already connected with me, please do. Just tell me who you are when you do so I know you’re a fellow hacker. If you are going to Startup School 2010 I would be delighted to meet you there and/or via the social links below. Come and say G’day to this Aussie.
Catch me online:
Twitter – follow me today to never lose a new & exciting post.
Linkedin – connect with me on a professional level. We are after all only six steps away from each other.
Ernest Semerda is an experienced Engineering Leader formerly a hacker from Sydney (Australia) and now a Mountain View (CA, Silicon Valley) resident. Ernest holds 2 degrees; a Bachelor in Computer Science from University of Western Sydney and a Executive MBA from Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM). Ernest has experience helping build & grown startup companies with a few years stint in the corporate world. Startups are his specialty and also his passion.
This is what I love about Silicon Valley. It has the resources, people and culture to give you the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals, get involved in engaging conversations and even bounce ideas off each other.
The high-tech industry back in Sydney is nothing compared to what is available in Silicon Valley. There has been a recent shift in greater awareness and acceptance of the value that can be gained by investing in high-tech ecosystems but it’s still a slow process and is a decade behind what Silicon Valley has to offer today. It isn’t happening fast enough and let’s face it, there is no place in the world like Silicon Valley. Bradford Cross discussed historical perspective and challenges of the widespread efforts to reproduce Silicon Valley in cities across the world. In a nutshell it’s too hard to compete with culture and century of history in Silicon Valley. Bradford’s article is worth a read to understand the history and value Silicon Valley has brought to the world and which it will continue into this century.
Where to connect with like-minded people
So you are in Silicon Valley and want to connect with like-minded people. Here is a breakdown list of where you can start. At first attend as many of these as possible until such time when you have tuned to those that add value to your needs.
The no.1 best place to start is meetup.com. Meetup.com (also called Meetup) is an online social networking portal that facilitates offline group meetings in various localities around the world. The site has the tools to allow facilitators and people interested in meeting up to make this connection seamless and pain-free.
Meetup.com believes that people can change their personal world, or the whole world, by organizing themselves into groups that are powerful enough to make a difference. Thus you will see a huge pool of meetups in the bay area (Silicon Valley). Everything from:
Stanford Bases: Stanford University’s entrepreneurship group with one of the largest student entrepreneurship groups in the world dedicated to cultivating the next generation of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and beyond.
Hacker Dojo: Located around the corner from my place (in Mountain View) is a place for hackers to hang out and code. Also the home of Android weekly developer meetings and monthly presentations from cloud companies.
Jewish High Tech Community: Helps improve the quality of life in the Silicon Valley for Jewish people working in and around technology by educating them about important trends and issues in technology.
Yahoo’s LAMP meetup every month to share Yahoo’s experience and provide an environment to learn from each other.
And yes, most of these places provide budding explorers with pizza & drink to keep the bellies full.
If you see me at one of these meetings please say hi! I love meeting and connecting with like-minded individuals. I like to look at people I don’t know yet as friends I haven’t met yet. Say g’day to this Aussie 🙂
Teach your phone new tricks – Google Voice enhances the existing capabilities of your phone, regardless of which phone or carrier you have – for free. In my view, Google Voice is the 2nd most useful product offered from a set of Google apps. Here’s why.
What is Google Voice
Google Voice gives you one number for all your phones, voicemail as easy as email, free US long distance, low rates on international calls, and many calling features like transcripts, call blocking, call screening, conference calling, SMS, and more. Google Voice allows me to select any of my phones (fixed line and/or mobile) to connect me with the caller.
What features work for me
One Number – I have set up a nice network of phones with virtual telephone numbers closest to me for Google Voice to call. So I am no longer limited by a handset or carrier and I can always give just the 1 number to people.
Online voicemail – Should I miss a call or choose to not accept a call Google Voice will divert the user to my online voicemail (which can be customized to each caller) and record it. No big deal here right. But here is where it gets better. I also receive via email and SMS a transcribed version of the voice mail and if I log in to Google Voice there it is again, the transcribed version.
Call screening – Everytime someone calls me on my Google Voice you go through my virtual secretary who asks you your name and then tries to connect with me. I can choose to decline the call if I’m busy or am getting spammed and it goes directly to my voicemail.
Do not call block – In Google Voice online interface I can “Block” callers from ever calling me again. This is great since in Australia we have the “Do Not Call Register”. A government ran website protects individuals privacy by stopping certain telemarketing calls to fixed line and mobile telephone numbers. In the USA (as far as I’m aware) there is nothing like this. This is where Google Voice helps.
Protecting my privacy
This means that I can still keep my fixed land line and mobile (cell) numbers but now I give out my Google Voice number to people I meet at meetups, real estate agents, car dealers etc… if one of them abuses my number or passes it to a telemarketing agency I just block them in Google Voice and Google Voice will no longer connect me with those callers. Simple.
Also, since there is a screening feature which allows Google Voice to 1st call me and ask me whether I want to speak with the individual trying to connect with me I always know who is calling me before I say g’day. Should I wish not to speak to them, Google Voice will tell the caller I am not available and they can leave a message for me. Talk about a personal assistant!
When Google Voice launched into Beta I was one of the lucky few American’s to get access to it. Google also gave out a bunch of free 25 business cards with the Google Voice number. Since then I have paid to have a lot more printed since I love the simplicity of these cards and the fact that I can hand these to people I meet.