For many years I have run an antiquated virtual answering machine on one of my Macs using the long-unsupported and discontinued Parliant PhoneValet software and dongle combo. Sometime about midyear I noticed that the software was no longer picking up and doing the various things it was supposed to, such as presenting a phone tree to callers and forwarding messages via email and calling our cell phones and so forth.

After some troubleshooting I concluded that my housewide move to OS X 10.x Yosemite around June had finally done in the software. I have a very elderly pre-Intel Mini that I keep around as a print server for some older printers and figured at some point I would move the dongle and software to that machine, still a possibility.

However, at some point well after that, date uncertain, I noticed that there had been no messages left on the traditional handset-base answering machine either, which seemed strange, especially in an election year. Sometime around then, my parents mentioned in a conversation that they had tried to call our land line but been unable to leave a message.

I thought that was strange, so I called the number from my cell. It rang in the handset but not in the hardware attached to the line, even though our DSL was working fine. When I picked up the landline handset, there was no dial tone.

After looking into it, I concluded that the likely course of events was that our cat had knocked a handset off a cradle at some point and we had not noticed it until after the emergency tone had been cut off and the POTS voice line disabled, probably in telco software, and would likely need to be reinitialized. I did not expect that there was a hardware or wiring issue because our DSL service remained fine.

We traveled a great deal in the second half of the year, on the road an average of a week a month through November, and that, plus the definite bonus of not even receiving any of the electioneering robo calls that plague election years, meant that I was in no hurry to get the line back up at all. 

Yesterday I finally filed a ticket and CenturyLink sent a truck. The technician was friendly and informative and although surprised to hear that the DSL remained functional and concurring that the infrastructure was likely fine, determined that his best reccomendation was to replace the line-drop to the node. 

So now we have landline POTS again for the first time in at least six months. Minutes after the hookup, we received our first call, from a scammy travel-offer telemarketer! We had qualified for a week of free travel, food, and lodging in Florida!


We really did not miss the line at all. I suppose I should look into seeing if we can keep just the DSL portion of the service and cut our rates by about $25. I’d like to keep the number, though. I wonder, can I port it to a virtual service or VOIP that would enable screening and phone tree forwarding for, oh, $5 or so? I sure wouldn’t be interested in paying any more than half the current cost and honestly any more than five bucks doesn’t generate enough savings annually to motivate me at all.

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