Saturday, January 27, 2007

Ring out the old, ring in the new, that is.

Our answering machine died. It must have been at least 10 years old, maybe even 15. It used a pair of microcassettes. I remember when I bought it digital machines were very new, and I didn't trust them. I felt safer with tapes that I could actually see.

But that was then, and this is now. I knew the replacement one would be digital. But a quick check of a couple electronics store websites told me that a direct replacement might be impossible. Neither store carried any standalone answering machines--not even one-line units, let alone a two-line one that I needed. All answering machines now seem to be built into telephones. So I had to buy a telephone.

That got me thinking. Our telephone "system" consisted of a pair of two-line speakerphone caller ID wired units (pictured on the left), one in my office, one in my wife's, which is where the answering machine was stationed. We also had a smaller phone with a separate caller ID display, both for 2 lines, in the TV room. (This phone requires no electricity. Everyone should keep such a phone around, whether they use it normally or not, because phones that require AC power will not work in a blackout, while these still will.)

In addition to all that, there were two old wireless phones, fed by a transmitter unit--both 2-line Caller ID units. They had intercom capability. We kept them in the kitchen and the bedroom normally. The only problem was, they didn't work very well--apparently the signal was not very good at penetrating the walls. I tried moving the base unit around, but it didn't help. Basically, we just used them for their caller ID screens--if we saw that it was someone we wanted to talk to, we'd run to a phone that actually worked.

For a long time my wife has really wanted an intercom, from the kitchen to my office, and one between our offices. I tried a RadioShack wireless set, with three units. It would work from the kitchen to my office, but not in my wife's office. Apparently the signal actually travels through the AC power lines. The problem is, we combined apartments, but we did not integrate the electrical system (I get a separate bill for each old apartment every month). The kitchen and my office are in one of the old apartments, and my wife's office is in the other, and apparently they're on different transformers, so the intercom won't work.

Thus, I figured I could kill three birds with one stone by buying a wireless 2-line intercom-capable answering-machine equipped system with three caller ID speakerphone handsets. Which is what I did. (A handset in its charger base is pictured on the right.) I put the base unit with the answering machine in my wife's office--though messages can be retrieved from any of the handsets. The base unit has a built-in charger for my wife's handset. Then I put one of the handsets in my office, and one in the kitchen. I took out both of the old wireless phones (I've got to remember to disconnect the base unit--it's back among the rats' nest of wires, modem and router under the table next to my desk, blocked by my file cabinet, which sits under the table.) I put the phone that used to be in my wife's office into the bedroom--fortunately, there's enough room on my night table. The phone in the TV room remains as it was.

As I suspected, the new phones work through the walls just fine.

So now we have full phone capability in the kitchen and the bedroom, as well as in the offices and the TV room, and a 3-way intercom (four if you count the base unit, but I can't imagine a situation where my wife would be in her office, but her handset wasn't). And we have an answering machine that works.

Plus, I gained a large bit of free space on my desk.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Double election week

A short note on why I'm posting even less than the last few weeks. Monday was my first meeting as a member of the board or LeGaL, the LGBT Law Assn. of Greater New York. There I was elected treasurer of the group (I've been treasurer of LeGaL's charitable foundation for the last few months). I was also reappointed to the foundation board. After that meeting most of us went over to the Diversity Reception of the New York State Bar Assn. Conference.

Tonight is the annual business meeting and biannual elections of Crossdressers International (CDI). I am running for my fourth term as treasurer, and for the first time I actually have someone running against me.

In between all this I've been going to the New York Jewish Film Festival--two films last evening alone. Nothing great, perhaps I'll have time to post short reviews in a couple days.

Plats du jour

Those Mets get their fans from all over the globe.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Plat du jour

A lawyer who practices on court and in court?