naturally frugal…

Christianity, technology, and of course tips on being naurally frugal

My internet/Voip setup

Everyone has a hobby… mine just happens to be saving money on phone plans! Well, it used to be, not so much anymore. Anyhoo, this built for me a bit of a reputation as the ‘Phone Plan Guru’, and subsequently i still have a steady stream of followers coming to me and seeking my wisdom on how they can save money on their phone bill – particularly with this new fangled technology called Voip.

So here is my recommendation – actually let me qualify that further – here is what I do! I don’t have the time to do all the research/maths and stay on top of all the latest companies/plans/offerings anymore. It all gets very confusing! But, when i did have the time, this is the best I could come up with, and i think its still pretty good.

Here is the teaser to keep you reading: Are you sick of paying $30 a month in line rental? Are you sick of slow restrictive internet plans? Are you sick of paying high call costs for calls to mobiles? Do you want cheap untimed local/STD/international calls? Do you want to save with Voip, but are scared of the technology?

I have a normal cordless home phone (essential to maintain high WAF [Wife Approval Factor]). It has a normal sydney number, but I dont pay line rental for it. I can make local/std calls with it for free. I can call mobiles for $0.105/min (no flagfall) or $0.38 untimed. I called my brother in Thailand on his mobile yesterday, and it cost me $0.08 untimed. Are you interested in how? Read on.

I do it using VOIP bundled with Naked DSL. VOIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol – in other words i run my phone line over the internet, rather than over a traditional phone line. Naked DSL means ADSL Broadband internet that runs over your home phone cable, but doesnt require you to have a phone number associated with that cable.

I use Exetel for this service. Many companies offer Voip + Naked DSL packages (i.e. iiNet, Engin etc), but I have found that Exetel is the cheapest, offering the most ‘value-adds’, but doesnt allow cost to compromise reliability. I been connected with Exetel for over 5 years and I am very happy with their service.

Based on Exetel’s current Plans, you can connect to the NAK2A ADSL2+ plan for $45/month which includes 6GB peak (48GB offpeaks!!) of data, a home phone number, 100 free local and STD calls, plus heaps of value-adds (ie SMS, email to Fax, voicemail, webspace etc). Most phone compaines will charge you $30/month just for the phone line, plus at least an additional $30/month for ADSL (not necessarily 2+, and definitely not with this much data included), plus they will slap you for calls on top of that! Hopefully the savings here are obvious.

Once you are signed up to the plan, all you need is an ATA (Analouge Telephone Adapter) to get your phone going. This is the device that connects your normal phone to the internet. I use a Linksys 3102 which can be bought very cheap here. You simply connect it up, plug in all the details, and hey presto you’re using VOIP.

The beauty of a device such as the Linksys 3102 is that you can setup what is called a dial plan. This means that you can tell it to use one VOIP company for some calls, and another VOIP company for other calls. In my case, I have set it up so that if it detects I am calling an Australian landline, it will use Exetel, as I get 100 calls free! But, if it detects I am calling a mobile, or an international number, it will use another VOIP provider, who is cheaper than Exetel for these calls.

I use Pennytel for these calls. Pennytel offer prepaid accounts (i.e. no monthly fee or minimum spend) and great rates! Mobile calls can be made for $0.105/min. International calls can be made to many destinations untimed for $0.08 or cheap per minute rates. Pennytel also have some paid plans that offer great value.

So that’s how i do home Internet/Voip. Stay tuned for another post on how to use Voip through your mobile (any old mobile!), and how to use Voip from home without having an internet connection!

Captive attention whilst i ate lunch today…

Aww… how can you resist those faces!

Meet Ruby…

Does getting a second dog make us now officially ‘Dog People’? Last night we welcomed Ruby into our family. She is Jasper’s 10week old younger sister – Gold Lab (she could easily market toilet paper). As I write, she is chewing on the wheel of my desk chair. I am slowly starting to remember what it is like to have a puppy in the house!

Photos of Ruby



My Ethics class was visited today by Melinda Tankard-Reist, of the Women’s Forum of Australia. She presented a stimulating (and quite emotional for me) presentation of Abortion and the affect it has on women. I am guesing that most people would think that since someone has chosen to have an abortion, they would not grieve the loss of the child.

However, Melinda’s research shows that quite often women are forced to have an abortion (genetic screening, boyfriend pressure, bad advice, adolescence etc) without actually wanting one. Often they feel they have no other choice, so are forced to make that one. Thus, once it is done they grieve.

Equally, women who opt to do it, and think it will not affect them emotionally are wrong. They often find the gravity of the situation hist a few years later, and they too grieve.

Here’s where it hit me. The description of the grief they experienced is exactly the same description I would use of the grief Leah (and I) have felt over the loss of Josh. And added to that they have the guilt of taking their child’s life. I wouldnt wish that greif on anyone, and so the thought that people are being advised to willfully submit to a procedure that cause that type of grief is unthinkable.

Melinda’s advice is that the Church needs to step up in

  1. Helping educate women considering abortion about the importance of life
  2. Provide more practical care to single/teenage mums to be
  3. Recognise and help deal with the depth of greif  in someone who has had an abortion.

The presentation also reminded me of how much i miss my son.

Google Chrome not quite there yet…

So i’ve given chome a chance (i even set it as my default browser!)… but its let me down a few too many times now for me to continue giving it the ‘default’ privileges. To its credit, it is very nimble, and very smart. It starts quickly, and has some neat features, but in other ares it sucks.
2 Examples.

  1. I often have to log into my ADSL modem to do a soft reboot because the ADSL has slowed down to dial-up speed. I have the user name and password set to blank, and firefox happily accepts this, but Chrome wont let me in!
  2. Chrome doesnt handle my internet bank sites very well… this make me really nervous – like i click submit for a bank transfer, but nothing happens. I’m then left in the awkward position of not knowing if the money went or not. Sorry Chrome… its back to firefox for me.

Large Hadron Collider Humour…

I’ve been enjoying thinking trying to understand the physics etc that the LHC is attempting to prove, but i’ve equally enjoyed the masses of humorous material being produced in its wake! Don’t know what the LHC is all about? Let these guys explain it to you…

There is also a minority that believe’s the LHC’s potential ability to create ‘black holes’ will bring on the end of the world… but as you can see from their webcams here, its all perfectly fine 🙂

Maybe i’m getting old…

I’m getting to that stage in life now, where “Classic Hits” come on the radio, and I think to myself – ‘Hey! That song came out while i was at High School!!’. Anyway… i digress. I was reminded of my oldness today. I had to buy a new USB Flash drve, as my trusty Sandisk Ultra SD Plus (it was a SD card that converted into a USB drive! Very Cool!) finally packled it in. It was 2Gb, and i thought it was enormous. I replaced it with an 8Gb Sandisk Cruzer Micro Skin (shown). It cost $34 at Kmart! I remember buying my first flash drive many years ago for much more than that, and it was 8Mb!! Crazy.


Ironically, it was three days later that the iPod Nano came back to life. After some TLC with a hairdryer, and some gentle USB charging, my iPod nano is resored to its original state. It take more than 100L of Water and a 1000rpm spin cycle to kill an iPod!

Great Laundry Stuffups!

I reckon Leah and I could make a bit of a ‘Funniest Home Videos’ style gag reel of all the times we have had washing go wrong! We seem to have done it all. Like there was the time i washed the towels with the table cloths – the table cloth never looked the same again! And then there are the tissues! Oh you’d think we’d learn to check the pockets… but we never do, and so i’ve had some major tissue damage recovery operations.

But we trumped them all this weekend. We really should have checked the pockets. Because after i had unloaded all the washing, i noticed a silver rectangle left at the bottom of the washing machine. When i curiously picked it up and turned it over i discovered it was my iPod Nano! Poor little thing. It probably didnt even survive past the first rinse, to see the spin cycle! I’ve opened it up and hair dryed it in the vein hope that it will spring back to life, but i’m not holding my breath. Funny – i was doing a similar thing with my Palm TX about 12 months ago after it got drowned in my backpack on the way home from college in a freak storm. It was never the same again.

Google Street View released… awesome!

You can now cruise the streets of most major places in Aus with Google Street View. We’ve all ooo’d and aahh’d at google maps, but this takes it to the next level, allowing you to place a little man at any location on the map, and see what he see’s 360Deg!

Apparently little camera equipped google cars have been crusiing our streets provinding this interesting nerdy distraction. It was bin day when they did my street… how embarrassing!