Tech

Adding a simple twitter feed to your Drupal site

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I just added a simple twitter feed to one of my sites and thought I'd share what I did. The only other post I could find about was this one http://drupal.org/node/151185 and I didn't really think it should be necessary to write any code (and especially not any db queries) views could do all the display stuff I needed.

Phone calls anywhere

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Since I started traveling about a year and a half ago staying in contact with people has been one of the most difficult things for me (the bizarre local calling systems don't help either :)). This is especially true with people who can't get online, like my Grandma. Figuring out a decent phone system has been really tough and I even recently had to change my "permanent" number which I've already written about here and here.

I think I've finally got a great system worked out. Something that will work for anyone who travels internationally a lot. It will get a lot simpler and cheaper when Google Voice goes international or Skype gets SkypeIn numbers in Canada.

The problems:

  1. Over the past 1.5 years I've "lived" in 6 countries and had a local cellphone number in 4 of them.
  2. Roaming for me to call out is prohibitively expensive.
  3. My family never has any idea of how to get a hold of me. All of my friends that I maintain decent relationships with are online so that's not so much of a problem.
  4. In emergencies I need to be contactable.
  5. I don't want my family and friends to pay a fortune just to call me.

The solution:

  1. A local (Vancouver) VoIP number that never changes (ideally)
  2. A US SkypeIn number and SkypeOut subscription
  3. A local cellphone number

I switched to Voice Network in September for my VoIP service and so far have been happy with them. I pay $4.50/month for my Vancouver phone number and 1c/min to anywhere in Canada, 1.5c/min for US.

Skype is really a lifesaver. Without it I don't believe my life would be nearly as comfortable. I have a subscription to Skype "Unlimited US & Canada" which gives me virtually unlimited North American calling for $2.80/month. I recently picked up a US SkypeIn that costs me $4.46/month.

I also make a habit of getting a local phone number for my cellphone in any country I'm in for a decent amount of time just to make my life easier. (A SIM card in South Africa cost me 14c CAD compared to $40CAD in Vancouver :-/ so really most places the local number is virtually free to get and then just pay per use).

My setup:
1. For people who want to contact me... either call me on Skype or call my Vancouver VoIP number listed on the left hand side of my blog. I forward my VoIP number to my SkypeIn number and then either answer the Skype call on my computer, go to voicemail or forward it to my local cellphone number (in SA it's ~30c/min, so I don't do that unless I'm expecting a call).

2. For me to call out has never been a problem, and I just use Skype for that.

The total cost to me is about $12/month which is well worth it for a permanent local phone number wherever I am in the world. (In addition to these services, I also use a Logitech ClearChat Wireless Headset which I use for all my phone calls).

I'm only a bit embarrassed that it took me this long to get going with the SkypeIn number... it really does simplify everything and makes things run so much smoother.

New Phone Number

2 comments

Due to the unfortunate incident with my last VoIP company I've had to switch providers. Because the number I had been assigned on that network was a Richmond number very few VoIP providers were able to transfer it to their service, for this reason I've needed to just drop my 604 number and get a whole new phone number.

A review of my Netfone VoIP service

7 comments

This is actually more of a rant than a review. But hopefully it will serve the purpose of other people avoiding Netfone in the future.

To start with, I've never received worse service at a company than this, not even with Telus if you can believe that. The service is so bad, that I even have trouble believing it... until I try to contact them again. I've used them for about a year now and never really needed to contact them. My VoIP phone is basically only used for forwarding to my cell or receiving voicemail. I almost never use it as an actual phone.

Quick DrupalCon DC Wrapup AND a mystery!

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Last week was DrupalCon DC. This was my 4th DrupalCon in a row... Barcelona, Boston, Szeged, and now Washington, DC. The NowPublic development team is distributed throughout North America and Europe, so the bi-annual DrupalCon is the only time we all (or most of us at least) are able to get together. Though the whole team couldn't make it this time around it was still good to see the guys that were able to.

We ended up staying in 4 bedroom house with 8 "beds" and 11 people. All in all a great time, and I managed to avoid the conference flu that tends to spread through conferences at this time of year (which is the first time I've done so in 3 years :) ).

The conference was very well organized, my only complaint would have been the internet... you should make sure it's working /before/ bragging to everyone about it.

I actually went to more sessions this time around than normal, but still have very little to write about. Did a bit of sight seeing while I was there, but the US DrupalCon's seem to just be a bit less of a party and more of a conference than their European counterparts... go figure.

Now for the mystery! Can you guess what this is?