Three phone tips for antisocial people like me that hate phones

In no particular order:

1. A friend recently got a new phone & number on Verizon, and neglected to set up his electronic voicemail account for the first few weeks. When you call, after 4-5 rings it goes to voicemail but the message is simply "This user has not set up their voicemail yet. Goodbye."

Now, this won't work for everyone, but if you spend a minimal amount of time being interrupted by phone calls and you have a stable job and relationships and don't need to get every single call that comes in, this no-voicemail thing is kind of awesome because it is one less inbox for this friend's life. I know when I get that message I'll either text, call back later, or just send an email. I'm envious and may not set up voicemail for future new phones I get.

2. In the spirit of Last Year's Model, my home landline is connected to a 11 year-old cordless phone we have no reason to replace. It works for the hour or so total talk time we use it each week, but since the phone sits in the cradle charging constantly, the batteries tend to go bad after a few years. The batteries are currently dying so the phone has to stay on the charger all the time, and when you do get a call, you get about 10 minutes of talk time before the batteries are dead and the call drops. 

Instead of replacing the rechargable battery pack, I've been enjoying this feature for a few months now. I know it's kind of asshole-ish, but it's really nice to be able to keep things short and sweet with everyone that calls my house. It's really handy and I don't spend hours on the phone chit-chatting because the phone simply can't do it, and I have no guilt about cutting a call short. I can always have a long conversation on my cell phone if need be.

3. There are several web services out there to answer the question "Who owns that unlisted number that just hit my mobile phone?" but my favorite is WhoCalled.Us. It's an awesome free service where people report details of who called them and what they wanted when they called, think of it as crowd-sourced telemarketer reporting. It's handy because you can safely ignore most calls to your phone after looking up the numbers at this site.

If a weird unknown number comes into my iPhone, I ignore it and look up the number later. 9 times out of 10, it was a sales call from a bank, a timeshare company, or a bullshit work-at-home offer. I wish it was integrated in my phone, so I could just hit a button to do auto lookups from the missed calls page on my phone, or if an incoming call had known records at whocalled.us, it could display the top three rated comments on my screen before I hit accept or reject.

(this post was also translated into the Czech language)

10 Comments


  • I wish it was integrated in my phone, so I could just hit a button to do auto lookups from the missed calls page on my phone, or if an incoming call had known records at whocalled.us, it could display the top three rated comments on my screen before I hit accept or reject.

    I smell an app brewing here…

  • I just mostly don’t answer mine and leave the ringer off. I do this sort of by accident since I sleep in and don’t like to be woken up by basically anyone. But then I forget and leave the ringer off for days and I find I’m totally okay with that. Around here you can’t blow off the phone entirely, but it’s a rare person that can’t handle a call back a few days later. Anyone who needs to urgently contact me knows to IM or email me. The few people I do really like to talk to [boyfriend, family, a few friends] know to just email me and say “Hey is now a good time for a phone call?” It’s weird and grandma-ish but it works well.

  • Oh my LORD, I’d love if my phone’s inbound call handler had hooks to integrate with web services like this. Jesus, could you imagine how awesome that would be?!?

  • Love the idea of integrating the “whocalled.us” into the phone. Frankly for all the amazing things that the iPhone does, it’s somewhat crap at dealing with phone issues. It just feels like there should be ways to sort and categorize. For example, I hunted around for a reasonable way to block texts *just* from my mother-in-law. It seems like that should be a setting but as far as I can tell, there’s no good way to do it. (Go ahead, call me a meany but she has sent me hundreds of texts since the birth of my baby three and a half months ago and getting yet another text about the baby when I was sleep-deprived and exhausted just about sent me around the bend.)

  • Ooh, they have a pseudo-api
    http://whocalled.us/about
    Me thinks an app is brewing.

  • There’s an app for that already in fact: http://mrnumber.com

  • While I very much enjoyed reading the article (and am thinking of sabotaging my phone to get tip 2 working), I was very surprised as well. You must be the only person in the world that hates phonecalls but lists his phonenumber on his blog! :)

  • Well, that phone number in the upper right just goes to a Google Voice message, and not to any phone. :)

  • Damn it! I just set up my verizon voicemail!

  • How about this? We’ve got our laptops squeezed into our phones, isn’t it time to have our phones in our laptops? How great would it be to take your laptop out and instead of hunting for wi-fi, be able to connect with your phone’s data plan? Phones are small — put one in my laptop!

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