Have your PC screen your calls and take your messages with handy Windows tools.
If you've got a Windows PC with a standard modem (it doesn't have to be a voice modem), you can use some really cool software applications that can identify incoming calls, with their caller ID information shown on your Windows desktop. (Mac users can use Phlink for this purpose [Hack #15] .) Some of these apps can even respond to incoming calls so that you don't have to.
This kind of application is a lot of fun, because while it technically doesn't use any VoIP components (it's still strictly legacy phone technology), it will give you an idea of how much power you as a phone user have when you use software to enhance telephony applications. After all, your phone service is merely an application, and you'll be using a PC application to enhance it.
You'll need caller ID service enabled on your phone line if you want your PC to handle your calls in this way.
A cool freeware app that provides a caller ID pop-up window in the Windows system tray is appropriately named PhoneTray Free. In addition to the pop-up display, PhoneTray will log all incoming calls—handy when you've been out, and you want to know whom to call back—and it has a feature called Privacy Manager that lets you block calls from certain callers (Figure 2-7). PhoneTray also has a handy scheduler to establish your "quiet time," so you aren't receiving annoying ...