2006 saw an absolute onslaught of novelty voip phones - everything from voip enabled computer mice to physical avatars that plug into your computer's USB port and move around when you talk. And who could forget voip-on-a-stick? A USB memory stick, that is.
Voip is all about portability, but sometimes it's hard to get the logistics squared away. You can't exactly run around with a voip Internet phone adapter tucked in your back pocket. Those Ethernet cables are a serious tripping hazard. One alternative to hauling your adapter back and forth is using a softphone when you're not at home.
Softphones give you access to your voip account from a computer; it's a perfect solution unless you're not allowed to download anything to the computer you happen to be working on. That's where StickPhones come in. Pre-loaded with proprietary softphone programs, StickPhones let you make voip calls from any computer with a fast enough internet connection-but everything is run from the USB drive so you don't have to load any software onto the computer. When you're done, just unplug the USB drive and it's like you were never on the computer at all.
Although most StickPhones aren't particularly expensive, why spend the money if you've already got a portable USB drive at your disposal? I put mine on my iPod; it gives me the versatility of voip-on-the-go, without having to carry any additional equipment. You'll be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to set this up:
First make sure your iPod is set up to store files:
Now load the voip.com SoftPhone onto your iPod:
- Make sure you're running the latest version of iTunes.
- Plug the iPod into an available USB port on your computer.
- Open iTunes and click on the iPod icon in the left hand column.
- In the main window, select the Settings tab.
- Scroll down to the Options section and place a check in the box next to 'Enable disk use.'
- Mac users will find an iPod icon on their desktop or in the Finder; in Windows, look under My Computer.
- Double-click to open the iPod window.
- You're now able to drag and drop files from your computer to the iPod.
To use your voip.com SoftPhone-on-a-stick:
- In Finder (Mac), or under My Computer (Windows), locate your voip.com SoftPhone file. It will be inside a folder labeled VoIP.
- Right-click the SoftPhone file and make a copy.
- Drag your copy over to the iPod window and drop it or click 'Paste.'
- Plug your voip headset into the computer you'll be using.
- Plug your iPod into a USB port.
- Double-click the iPod icon in the Finder or My Computer window.
- Open the SoftPhone folder by double-clicking on the icon.
- Look for the orange 'voip_softphone' icon and double-click to launch.
- Sign in and start making calls!