Posted by New York Times crack tech columnist David Pogue, who says he’s adding a local freephone2phone access number to his cell phone’s address book – happy to endure one or two 12-second ads in order to get his overseas calls for free.

(It works fine calling from a landline, also. And for calls within the U.S., e.g., for someone with a basic landline that does not already include ‘free’ long-distance.)

. . . To try out FreePhone2Phone, I dialed a local number, which I looked up at To reach the New York City access line, you’d dial (646) 500-8620.

I listened – actually, half-listened – to a 12-second ad for the University of Phoenix, then pressed 1 to dial my number. I plugged in 011-44-20 7806 1000, the number for the Covent Garden Hotel in London. I just picked a hotel at random because I knew I wouldn’t be waking anybody up.

The call was placed instantly, and the sound quality was fantastic. I asked the attendant with the cute British accent for the nearest Tube station. Leicester Square, she told me.

I tried a couple of other international calls, my mind buzzing with the new paradigm that had suddenly opened. Frankly, I can’t see why anyone would ever use a calling card again; by the time you’ve fussed with typing in your authorization codes, you’ve spent more time to place a calling-card call than you would listening to a FreePhone2Phone ad . . .

☞ After nine-and-a-half minutes you get beeps every five seconds until your 10 minutes are up. And your next call to the same number that same day is limited to just 5 minutes – so it’s basically ‘just’ 15 free minutes per day to any one phone number. But Moscow? Rio? Sydney? Free from your cell phone while you’re riding in a cab? Not bad, mate.

In most of the 55 countries, the free calling only works to landlines. But in some – China and India among them – you can call any local cell phone as well.

Full disclosure: I have a small interest in this company. If you post this on your Facebook page and it goes viral, I may someday get my investment back, which, unlikely as it is, would . . . be . . . thrilling.


Former Florida Congressman Alan Grayson, to his list:

A reporter called me a little while ago, and told me that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had been shot at a public event. She is in critical condition.

I’m going to let others comment on what this means for America. I just want to say what it means to me.

Gabrielle Giffords and I served together on the House Committee on Science and Technology. She was the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, and I was a member of that subcommittee. Her D.C. office was one floor above mine.

I saw Gabby dozens, if not hundreds of times, during our two years together. And nearly every time that I can remember, she was smiling.

Gabby is one of the most cheerful, charming and engaging people I have ever known. She’s always looking on the bright side. She has something good to say about pretty much everyone. Bad news never lays a glove on her. She loves life, and all the people in it.

No matter what is going on in your life, after fifteen minutes with Gabby, you’ll feel that you can touch the stars.

Everyone knew that Gabby would have a tough race in 2010. (She actually won with 49% of the vote.) But I always thought that if each of her constituents could spend that fifteen minutes with her, and see what she is really like, then she would win with 99.9% of the vote. You would want her as your Congressman, because you would want her as your friend.

I know nothing about the man who shot Gabby, and what was going through his mind when he did this. But I will tell you this – if he shot Gabby out of hatred, then it wasn’t Gabby he was shooting, but rather some cartoon version of her, drawn by her political opposition. Because there is no way – NO WAY – that anyone who really knows Gabby could hate her or hurt her. She is a kind, gentle soul.

My heart goes out to Mark Kelly, Gabby’s husband, and the many, many people who love her. Gabby, we don’t want to lose you. Please stay here with us.

Alan Grayson

☞ I barely know Congresswoman Giffords, but within an hour of meeting I had gone on-line – unasked – to contribute to her campaign. You can’t meet her and not want to join her team.


One of you was actually kind enough to request a ‘Like’ button on this page. I’m not clear what a Like button does, but within hours my able webmaster had it up (see it? next to the quote of the day?) and 147 of you had liked me.

Does this refer to today’s column alone? Does it accumulate over time? Do I win a prize at some point? Do you win a prize? Whatever. I like you, too.


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