Tag Archives: communications services

The End Of Free Faxing?

What’s up with eFax, also known as j2, the (supposedly) free Internet fax people?

I received an email from j2 Global Communications today that said

Dear Jeremy,

Your account has been suspended and your eFax number 1-973-215-1210 is no longer accepting faxes.

If you wish to keep your eFax account, you may upgrade and reactivate your account immediately by using the following link.

If you do not reactivate your account by 12/16/2004, it will be closed and your eFax number will be reassigned to another user.

If you have recently upgraded your account, thank you, and please disregard this notice.

Sincerely, The eFax Free Team

Um. Now, I may have missed something along the line. eFax send out ‘third party ads’ to support the service so I tend to let all the junk emails they send me go into a spam bin [see note below on altered text]. So I may have missed a crucial email. But I can’t see anything in this email that explains why they’ve canceled my free account and why I suddenly have to upgrade ($13 ‘one time setup fee’ [sic] and $13 a month for the number).

Now of course I’m not a suspicious individual, so I’m assuming this has absolutely nothing to do with the almost simultaneous announcements of “the immediate availability of its eFax® service in three additional languages” (Spanish, German and French, in addition to existing services in English and Dutch) and today’s press release that “j2 Global Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq: JCOM), the provider of outsourced, value-added messaging and communications services, today announced the availability of eFaxSecure, a new service for its eFax Corporate(R) customers”.

I’m not supposing for a second that these announcements, which make no mention of any free services the company offers, or the apparent suspension of some of those services, are intended to cover up scrapping any such services (were any scrapping to have taken place). Nor would I dream of taking a closer look at whether a NASDAQ-listed company is supposed to alert investors to the suspension of discontinuation of services (were any discontinuation to have taken place) as much as the addition of new ones.

Still, if it is the end of free Internet faxing, it’s a shame. I never really used it that much these days, but it was nice to put on namecards. Perhaps with the rapid spread of VoIP services, these kind of things were anachronism anyway. I might see what their PR folk have to say about all this in any case, just to see whether I’ve got the wrong end of the stick.

Software: Messenger 6.0 Is Out! Whee….

 The new version of Microsoft’s Instant Messaging program, MSN Messenger, is now officially out. The new version comes with, wait for it, more than 60 new emoticons (smiley faces to you and me), including ones that come alive with animation (o horror of horrors), and the ability to make personal emoticons (even more horrors); dozens of background images and personal display pictures for the IM screen, online games such as Tic Tac Toe and Minesweeper which users can play at IM speed with friends (no wonder companies don’t like their employees using chat programs at work), an integrated, easy-to-use Webcam service to share live video and voice with other users, easy ways to save your favorite IM conversations to a personal hard drive.
 
 
What’s probably more interesting in the long run is MSN Messenger’s closer integration with other devices, including cell phone, personal digital assistants (PDAs), MSN Direct watches or Tablet PCs. Clearly this whole IM thing is going to converge at some point with SMS or text messaging — a mobile phone version of the same thing, really — while the more fancy enhancements are, as Microsoft says, “to help the online network attain its long-term goal of providing broadband users a growing array of communications services”. That’s short for making messaging a serious tool in the work place (presumably with lots of self-designed smileys with it too).
 
I have not used Messenger ever since it tried to automatically load itself every time I use Outlook or Outlook Express. (If you have the same problem, try this). I prefer Trillian, which keeps my desktop free of little IM clients. But then I’m a grouch.