Slate writes about GrandCentral, a phone service that wants to simplify your life.
I played with it a couple months ago when the NY Times covered it. I mostly wanted it to get a 412 number so people here in Pittsburgh can call me without paying long distance to my 510 mobile number. fwiw, I can now be reached at (412) ACE-NOMAD.
After toying with it a bit, I abandoned it. I didn’t like it much, mostly for the reasons described in the article. I also was creeped out by the features like “post to blog” for a voicemail you’ve received. That says something scary about the designers.
For listening to voicemails on the computer, I like GotVoice.com. It’s free and doesn’t try to take over your phone patterns. You just set it up to call into your voicemail and it plays the tones to match the button presses you would make if you were calling in. Only it records the audio of the voicemails and makes it available to you over the web. And they recently added a mobile web interface too.
I just wish they had a version for home answering machines so my mom could backup the messages she loves to save from me and my sister. There’s no room for new ones.