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Max Hartshorne Readuponit: Porting is such sweet sorrow 

Readuponit: Travel and Voracious Reading

By Max Hartshorne

I don't know about you, but my cable bill both annoys and worries me. It seems like the better the TVs get, and even though they keep going down in price AND getting bigger, there are little strings attached and they make the bill creep up month after month.

Having to pay $10 more a month for a box capable of showing HDTV sucks ... and so does this monthly charge for a land line. I can't do anything about the HD fee, and still need two boxes, but I took a step the other day to cutting down this monster without chopping off my Comcast cord. I bought an Obitalk, which after I figure it all out, will provide me with a landline with the same number I've used for decades, without the monthly $40 bill.

Yes, it sounds easy. But like so many things, it's not easy at all. First I dusted off the Google Voice number that I got a few years ago. I used to enjoy watching the phone messages get transcribed (badly!) in emails. For some reason my sister's voice really stumped Google's voice-transcribing computers. Then, for some reason, it stopped doing this, and I didn't check in with it for a while.

But this Obitalk needs Google Voice to work. One of the first things I found out was that the porting, or number switching, needs to involve a mobile number. Drat! But digging deeper and asking my friend John, I found a work-around. This involves buying a dirt-cheap AT&T Go Phone at Wal-Mart and moving my land line number there ... then switching this number, or porting it, to Google Voice.

So far this has cost me $70 for the Obitalk, and I read that someone can buy a Go Phone for $10. Oh, and I have to load up $15 in minutes for this phone I'm not going to really use. But in the long run, I've saved enough on my cable bill to tack on the $10 more a month for a second HD box. And the big plasma TV that we will hook up to the new box was free, a castoff from someone who wanted a bigger, badder model.

I hope this all works ... if not, well don't try to call my land line because at this point it doesn't ring.

Max Hartshorne has been the editor of the GoNOMAD.com travel website since 2002. He gets on a lot of airplanes, writing travel stories and posting daily blogs on Gazettenet and on his site. He lives in South Deerfield, where he used to have a cafe.

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