Are there any good Google Voice numbers left?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Spent a considerable amount of time looking for a more mnemonic Google Voice number than the one I chose originally.  In that process I compiled a lengthy list of words and phrases that, as of July 18, were still available. 

As I live in Hilo, Hawaii, my search for memorable digits included Hawaiian words and place names so those I found will likely be of interest to Hawaii people.  Nevertheless, the majority of these are unrelated to Hawaii.  Still, I was surprised at how many Hawaiian words I found.

So you know, I discovered that just about any word or name with five or fewer letters is available.  This is why most of the words and phrases below are at least six letters long. Mahalo to Word Search, a handy site that generates words that can be formed from numbers you provide it.  This tool helped me form some of the phrases I found.

I present my list here for those who want to see what might still be available.  Hawaii related words and phrases appear in bold type.  The few entries with letters in parentheses are extra digits appended to the end of the phone number that complete the spelling of a word.  In most cases, digits dialed beyond the last real digit in the phone number are ignored by the phone system, but not always.

Before anyone asks, no, this is nowhere near a comprehensive or complete list of available words and phrases.  They are just what I found.  And, no, I’m not going to update this list.  If you have a Google Voice account and you’re considering one of these, enter the word or phrase without spaces yourself to see if it’s still to be had.  I’ll let those interested post comments as to which of these may or may not still be out there.  I expect some of these will go fast.




    akamai work





    5 mango pies

    hot lava










    rock salt




    a hui hou


    hilo town

    all bus

    da kine










    my guava





    got poi

    i eat poi



    wet town




    taste me


    speed nut

    like math


    cherry boy

    cherry gal

    sea salt


    punk ass

    fly trap




    water slosh

    water plows

    water plonk

    water slobs

    water sloop

    water plops

    water sloth

    water slope

    water plots/slots

    rain sun

    damp town


    all rain





    hot soup

    hot time

    dish/fish/dip4 barbie

    all male




    hell no

    no way man

    i wont go



    the alien



    rainy day

    all rain

    go train




    go dorky

    4my dork

    my dick

    my duck

    my ducky

    so sucky

    we suck

    i am huge

    i am soft

    i am wet

    i am long

    i am tall

    i am quiet

    i am shy

    i am nice

    i am fun

    i am kool

    i am rude

    i am back

    i am bad

    i am lazy

    i am true

    i am hurt

    i am a god

    i am a boy

    i am a pig

    i am a dog

    i am a cow

    i am a rok

    i am a box

    i am a fly

    i am a sow

    i am a spy

    i am a cub

    i am a doe

    i am a doc

    i am busy

    i am a bot

    i am ugly

    i am tiny

    i am nosy

    i am slow

    i am quic(k)

    i am shit

    i am math

    i am blue

    i am sad

    i am kept

    i am boss

    i am brat

    i am a ham

    i am lost

    i am a dud

    i am a pup

    i can fly

    i can see

    i can try

    i can pop

    know all

    know it al(l)









    i am hunky

    i am punky








    i am nuts

    i am next

    i am lame

    i am last

    i am less

    i am beat

    i am born

    i am back

    i am bord

    i am crap

    i am king

    i am kind

    i am kiss

    i am kirk

    i am lord

    i am neon

    i am nude

    i am lewd

    i am shot

    i am just

    i am jane

    i am mary

    i am marc

    i am west

    i am pork


    i am most

    i am muddy

    i am mist

    i am open

    i am life

    i am crab

    im a crab

    i am junk

    i am jude

    i am on it

    i am whom

    i am wood

    i am wild

    i am wide

    i am west

    im a tuna

45 Going On 60?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Can you believe the venerable 45 turned 60 this year? The vinyl 45 rpm single was what I lived for as a teenager in the hippie, trippy 1970's. I vividly remember all the stores in Honolulu where I would shop for the latest hits by artists of the day. Department stores like Sears and Woolworth at Ala Moana usually had the best prices, some as low as 77 cents. Then there were the specialty stores like Records Hawaii on Piikoi St. or The Music Box, literally a tiny 'box' of a store on Union St. Mall behind Kress downtown where you could preview music by asking the owner to play 45s of your choosing over their outdoor speaker system. Their prices were almost always higher than anywhere else, but they also had singles no one else had. This was critical if you wanted to be the first on your block to own a song that had just appeared on the radio, as I always did.

Being a kid from Kalihi Valley, I didn't have a whole lot of money to spend on records but all the money I did have went to buying 45s. I remember buying my first 45, Gilbert O'Sullivan's positively depressing "Alone Again (Naturally)" in 1972. That was the first of what was to become a collection of almost 900 45s over the course of just over a decade. Like the nerd (that I still am), I cataloged a list of my 45s in a three-ring binder.

Naturally, listening to AM radio was all I did back then, too, usually KPOI or KKUA. How else would I know which 45s to buy? Sometimes I'd buy a 45 weeks before it became a hit or even before it got any airplay at all. On the other hand, I had my share of flops in the collection as well. That's just how it went.

In the mid-70's, along with the other kids in our apartment building, I'd listen to KKUA DJ Lou Richards' show between 7 and 10 pm. Every night, Richards had his "Six-Pack" contest where he would play six songs in a row and the first caller to identify all six songs and artists correctly would win the six 45s along with a six-pack of 7-Up. I must have won literally several dozen times. It had even gotten to the point where Richards would ask me to give someone else a break. Whenever he did, though, I would remind him that I wouldn't win so often if he didn't have the habit of throwing in the one obscure song meant to stump his audience. Had all six songs been easy, more listeners would call and I would have had a much harder time getting through to be the first to name all six. Needless to say, I became a familiar face at the station. The only downside? Owning seventeen copies of Bob Dylan's "Knocking on Heaven's Door" and twenty-three copies of Redbone's "Come and Get Your Love." (Most of the freebies were promos issued on CBS labels like Columbia and Epic.)

Other miscellany I fondly remember about 45s?
  • 45s came in two varieties, "thick" and "thin", depending mostly on the recording label. The aforementioned CBS 45s, for example, were almost always of the "thin" variety where the outer edge of the 45 formed a thin, almost razor-sharp edge. Meanwhile the "thick" 45s had a flat edge like that of a nickel where, with some degree of dexterity, you could stand one on its side. I remember too that many of the "thick" 45s had an unusual property in that on the surface of their paper labels there would develop a whitish powder. The powder was most apparent on 45s with dark colored labels like the deep purple Stylistics' label, AVCO. To this day I have no idea what that powder was or how it got there or why I never saw this on the "thin" 45s.
  • Although the typical 45 came in a simple, plain white sleeve with a circular cutout on both sides to see the label, some record labels released 45s with promotional sleeves with no cutouts and photos of the band on the front (and sometimes rear).
  • A select few 45s were released on colored vinyl. Ones I owned included Fever Tree's "San Francisco Girls" on blue vinyl, The Sweet Marie's "Stella's Candy Store" on red vinyl, and Grand Funk's "We're an American Band" on gold vinyl.
  • Some 45s had writing along the inner band on the record, between the end of the groove and the paper label. Wish I could remember which 45s and what they said.
  • The reverse or B-sides of 45s usually stank because labels didn't want to give away songs with future potential or to lower potential album sales. But some B-sides actually became bigger hits than their A-sides. One I distinctly remember was the Doobie Brothers' number one hit, "Black Water", which was the B-side to "Another Park, Another Sunday."
  • Certain 45s in my collection were notable for other reasons. I had a copy of "Seaside Woman" by Suzy and the Red Stripes, a pseudonym for Paul McCartney and Wings. The song was written and sung by Paul's wife, Linda, but only got up to 59 on Billboard's Hot 100 in 1977. Notably, it was released on Epic Records and not McCartney's label, Apple/EMI. (Read more about "Suzy" here.)
Nowadays, whenever I hear the word "45", it's often used in the context of "Lost 45's" or songs that have, for the most part, been forgotten or get little airplay even on radio stations with Oldies formats. Regrettably, I sold my collection of 45s sometime in the mid-80's so for me, the term "Lost 45s" has additional meaning. And although my current collection of remastered and lossless flacs and various mp3s include the vast majority of those 45s I once owned, it just isn't the same.

Even today, I have my own list of "Lost 45s" that I would love to re-acquire in any format, most of them rather obscure songs that never made the usual "Best of"-type reissues and compilations on cd. They include:
  • "Stella's Candy Store" by The Sweet Marie. This was a local hit for a band that played in Hawaii and California in the early 70's. (See Melvin Ah Ching's page on this 45 here.)
  • "Me Japanese Boy, I Love You" written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and performed by Liz Damon and the Orient Express. Another local-only hit for a local band who had a minor national chart hit with "1900 Yesterday."
  • "Caroline this Time" and "Rock and Roll Heaven" by Climax on Rocky Road Records. Most people remember Climax (featuring Sonny Geraci) for their one-hit wonder, "Precious and Few." Others of you might remember 'Heaven' becoming a hit later for the Righteous Brothers.
So here's to the old 45 as we 'wax' nostalgic on its 60th birthday.

Google: Where's the Real Gmail App for Windows Mobile?

After all this time, you'd think WinMo users would have an honest-to-goodness Gmail application. Instead, our choices are firing up Opera and dealing with the sucky web interface. Or using the now-ancient and seriously lacking Java app. Or using Outlook and IMAP. Hardly what I'd call real choices.

Of the three, I use the Java app almost exclusively. At least it threads conversations and lets me mark messages as spam. But its UI is rather weak, I can't view most attachments, and it won't let me change the time zone from GMT so every message appears to have arrived 10 hours before it actually did.

Here again, why do iPhone users get special treatment? At least when they use Safari, they get an updated and modern UI with a cool "floaty bar."

It just ain't fair.

Google Voice, Say Hello to toktumi

Saturday, July 11, 2009
In case you hadn't heard, Google Voice is finally here.  You can learn all about it here.  In a nutshell, Google Voice is Google's latest creation designed to piss somebody off.  And this time that somebody is the telecom industry.

For many, Google Voice will be a godsend.  Sign up with Google Voice and you choose your own telephone number.  This number is meant to replace all of your current phone numbers. You give everyone you know your Google Voice number and when anyone calls it, all your phones ring at the same time.  You can answer from any of your phones and when you do, you can choose to 1) answer the call, 2) send the call to voice mail, 3) screen the call as the caller leaves a voice message and even optionally pick up the call as the caller is recording his message.  Just like an answering machine. (Remember those?)

Another killer feature is the ability to make outgoing calls using your Google Voice number. What makes it killer is calls are free to US numbers. Now that's a lot more people you can call for free than you can with your T-Mobile My Faves or Verizon's Friends and Family plans.

Want more?  Google Voice transcribes your voice mail messages and sends them as SMS or e-mail.  Or log on to your account at the Google Voice website and playback your messages on your computer.  This means never having to use your phone to pick up your voice mail.  Nice.

You can't sign up for Google Voice yet.  Right now, you're in by invitation only.  But last week Google began trickling invitations to people who started requesting them since Google acquired GrandCentral over two years ago.  (Go here to get an invite.)  So it's been a long wait for some of us.

Yesterday, after much whining and bitching, I finally received my invite.  Now, I had already given some--ok, some have said way too much--thought on how I would use Google Voice because I knew there were certain limitations that came with being a Hawaii resident.  Why?  Well, for one, Google Voice doesn't let you choose 808 for an area code.  So Hawaii callers have to make an out-of-state call to my Google Voice number.  That sucks big time.  (Alaska residents are in for the same surprise, only worse because the toll charges to Alaska are even higher than Hawaii's.)  And because my Google Voice number is an Ohio area code, I get charged if I call my home number.  Where's the love, Big G?

This would explain all the Tweets I'm reading from Hawaii people who've received invitations but say they're not going to sign up until Google Voice offers 808 numbers.  Well, that may not happen anytime soon, but I'm not waiting.  I'm using my Google Voice right now.  But how?

Enter toktumi, another VOIP service that offers many of the same features as Google Voice.  But what's different about toktumi is exactly what makes it so appealing to us Hawaii users.  First, like Google Voice, you get to choose your number.  And, no, toktumi doesn't offer 808 numbers either. But toktumi does have two trump cards over Google Voice.  One, toktumi will let you port your existing number (Google Voice says number porting is in the works but can't say when).  Not being able to port your existing number to Google Voice is the single biggest complaint I come across by people (at least on Twitter).  Two, and to me this is even better than number porting, toktumi will let you choose a toll-free number, which is what I did.  So zero toll charges for people calling me no matter where they're calling from and zero toll charges for me calling anyone in the US--including HI and AK.  More than that, with toktumi I get a "soft" phone that lets me take and make calls on my laptop (with a broadband connection).  That feature alone is what sold me on toktumi as I get zero bars with Verizon at home.  Now I have no excuses when the office calls when I'm working from home.

So here's my setup using both Google Voice and toktumi.  First I've told everyone my new toll-free toktumi number.  Having to do this is a minor chore for me since I'm not the world's most popular guy.  (And, remember, this isn’t something I would have to do had I chosen to port my current phone number).  For others, I can see how notifying the universe with their new number might be a real pain.  But the payoff, I think, is well worth it.  And in my case, for just $25, toktumi let me choose a toll-free vanity number which happens to be the same as my regular number. The only difference is my area code changed from Hawaii’s 808 to the toll-free 888.  Sweet.

Next I had to decide how to route incoming calls. I had two choices here: Forward calls to my Google Voice number and use the nifty call handling features it offers or forward calls straight to my cell phone and use my Google Voice strictly for voice mail (when callers get no answer or busy)?  Well, as it turns out, if I forward calls to Google Voice first, somehow the caller ID information is missing when Google Voice forwards the call to my cell phone.  That's a deal breaker.  So I have incoming calls on my toktumi number forwarded directly to my phone (a Samsung i910 Omnia).  This works since I use Inesoft Phone to handle incoming calls already.  If I don't answer (either because I'm away from the phone or I'm on a call) or if the call is auto-rejected by Inesoft (because, for example, the caller ID is blocked), the call is routed to Google Voice.  Because I'm using Google Voice for voice mail only, I have my account set to permanent Do Not Disturb.

As far as outgoing calls from my cell, I'm using Doug Melton's very handy and free idialer program.  This program lets me place outgoing calls through toktumi.  One click on a contact and it dials toktumi, dials a 2 to place the call, then dials the number.  The person I'm calling sees my toktumi number, not my real number, thereby making it more likely they'll use my toktumi number when they call me in the future.  And every call I make to someone anywhere in the US or Canada through my toktumi number is included in my toktumi account.  So these don't eat up any precious Verizon calling plan minutes.

Ok, so here’s where I mention that toktumi isn't free.  Only a company as huge as Google can offer services like this for free.  And let’s not forget, not even Google lets users call Hawaii or Alaska for free.  So at a flat-rate of only $14.95 per month, toktumi is a hell of a bargain, especially when you consider all outgoing and incoming calls to US and Canada are included.  No hidden charges or fees.  And for people like me in Hawaii, this makes the Google Voice/toktumi combo an attractive alternative.

(I have no affiliation with either Google Voice or toktumi beyond using their services.)