ROLM phone, meet the internets

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Bwog has recently been made privy to Grand Central, a Google-owned program that allows users to sign up for one number that will make all your phones ring when called (both landlines and cellphones). Grand Central also has numerous creepy/cool features like requiring people to state the reason for their call before getting to speak with you and allowing you to record calls at a moment’s notice (without the other person’s knowledge, natch.) But like any cool toy, this one comes with a warning:

Note: If you choose to record, be sure to check your local laws regarding call recordings. Most states only require one party’s consent (yours), but others require both parties to consent. There are significant penalties for recording a call without the other party’s consent in these states so to be safe you should let your callers know you are recording the call. It’s the nice thing to do regardless. ”

Orwellian! We like!

Bwog Arts Editor Justin Goncalves explains that you can actually switch the number from your cell to your room’s ROLM phone (the thing you unplugged and stored under your bed on move-in day), and use the phone to make outgoing calls. Says Justin: “I realize I’m way too excited about this, but I feel like others should know. Save your cell phone bills!”

…meanwhile, Google nerds across the world sit and wait…their imminent reign quietly yet unmistakably approaching.

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  1. the catch?

    Is it possible that giving this site your number would make it available to solicitors or other evil people?

    • Knowing Google  

      I think so. One idea: screen my number, trace my location, and send appropriate tele-advertisements my way?

      • lwyr  

        From the privacy policy:

        Information sharing and onward transfer

        * When you send email (such as by forwarding or replying to a voicemail), GrandCentral includes information such as your email address and the email itself as part of that email.
        * We provide advertisers only aggregated non-personal information such as the number of times one of their ads was clicked. We do not sell, rent or otherwise share your personal information with any third parties except in the limited circumstances described in the Google Privacy Policy, such as when we believe we are required to do so by law.

        Anyone quite sure what this means? I think it's pretty clear they aren't selling your number to telemarketers, but then where does their $$ come from?

  2. question  

    uh, i only briefly looked at the site and am not entirely certain but it doesn't seem like you can get around the charges you incur normally when you use your cell phone or rolm i wrong? please tell me i'm wrong because i'd love to be able to make free outgoing calls

    • 213-985-1186  

      GrandCentral is all kinds of awesome. I have it set to forward that number to my cell phone and my rolm phone. To answer your question, GC will dial your domestic calls for free. So you click on a name in your contacts list, and GrandCentral calls that person and rings whichever of your phones you choose. Because all incoming calls are free on ROLM, this is, in fact, free domestic calling on ROLM.

  3. wow

    ROLM is back. let the 1980s-style message machine games begin anew!

    • Alum

      We didn't have ROLM back in the 80's. Well, at least not in the mid-80s. I graduated in 1987 and they hadn't even started to install the system yet.

      I suppose they might have started after I graduated at still been finished before 1990, even though we all know ROLM wasn't built in a day.

  4. hairs  

    I think I might sign up for an invitation, but I can't figure out which area code I should use. It doesn't totally make sense to use my home area code (I don't expect to move back home after college), but I also have no idea how long I'll be in New York... any ideas?

  5. why not  

    make up a new one??

  6. Google  

    Where does their money come from?

    Google is just gobbling up market shares before they start charging, or, (as the picture indicates so eloquently) before they take over the world.

  7. CUIT  

    Before ROLM, there was CENTREX.

    • Me again  

      From the CUMB's script archive, Fall Orgo Night 1988:

      A long, long time ago
      I can still remember how that CENTREX used to make me smile,
      And I knew if I had my way,
      I'd still have my answering machine today,
      And then I could be happy when I dialed

      But the ROLM lady made me shiver
      With every message I'd deliver
      Bad news came this fall
      I couldn't get one more call

      I can't remember if I cried
      When I read that damn contraption's guide
      But something touched me deep inside
      The day the CENTREX died

      And we were singing . . .
      Bye, bye my old CENTREX phone line
      Why the hell do we have ROLM when that old system was fine
      For that amount of money at Lutece we could dine
      Of the Apocolypse this must be a sign
      Of the Apocolypse this must be a sign

      The Band would like to continue by playing Don McLean's American Pie, but since we can't do that, we remember the CENTERX system by playing something equally appropriate . . . (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction!

      • nerd  

        Centrex is a system where you don't own the hardware. You pretty much have a direct line from every phone to the phone company, who runs PBX (extension dialing) and voicemail for you. As you could imagine, god awful expensive.

        ROLM is system where you buy a big giant switch/computer thing that you hook all your extensions up to and then only buy a small chunk of incoming/outgoing lines with the phone company. A large investment upfront, but eventually starts to pay for itself and is generally a good thing because it's tangible equipment rather than service so it can be depreciated for tax purposes.

        • Alum

          After ROLM was installed, the computer science department (which used phone lines intensively for network connections) found that its costs had skyrocketed and opted out of the system entirely. That's why even now its numbers have a 939 prefix instead of 854.

  8. yo Bwog,  

    I hope you're going to cover the GS town hall. Present and speaking was the head of Facilities & a member of the Manhattanville planning committee, Bryan Mercer & Sam Renneblabla, and Prof. Dalton. If that isn't reason enough to cover it, then the very entertaining Dean Awn should be

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