One Ring To Rule Them All
Tech gadgets and utilities have a way of piling up. Soon you're looking for the next utility to handle your utilities. The king of all utilities is still the telephone. But how many numbers do you have now, and how can you handle finding and answering each one - or not. Slate magazine has an overview of Grand Central, the service that rings every number you've got on any phone you choose, along with caller ID on steroids and a host of other features.
In other words, as long as you're near any of your phones, you'll get every call that anyone makes to your GrandCentral number. Or not—many of the service's seemingly bottomless bag of tricks are designed to help you avoid talking to people. It screens calls with ruthless efficiency, forcing anyone whom it can't identify (through caller ID and your address book, which it can import from Microsoft Outlook or Gmail) to say who they are. It then tells you who's calling so you can decide if you want to answer. GrandCentral also blocks calls from known phone spammers; it can even play an uncannily realistic "you have reached a number that has been disconnected" recording for telemarketers or folks you just plain don't like.
The service is currently in Beta testing. It will be offered free, with a subscription for enhanced features.