Category Archives: Uncategorized

Merging Two Phone Numbers into One Phone (device) Courtesy of Google Voice

I found myself in the position of having both a work phone and a personal phone. Aside from being the butt of many a meme, it was a pain in the arse lugging them both around, and the redundancy of the substantial added expense irked me. My company allows us to use our work phones, for personal use, if we limit our data usage and do not exceed our allotted minutes. Since I almost never talk on personal calls, and because the vast majority of my data usage is via WiFi, I felt it was time to look into making the move.

What had held me back was I did not want to part with my personal phone number. I’ve had it for years and it is linked to numerous account-recovery routines, where an SMS message will generate, if asked, to convey a code that allows one back into their account. In addition, should I ever change jobs, and lose access to the work phone — and the phone number it has, which belongs to my company — I did not want to have to go through the process all over again, of logging into every account linked to one phone number, changing it, sending messages to my contacts, letting them know my new number, etc.

Then I got to thinking. Back in 2006 or so I switched over to Google for my mail, tired of switching my email provider every time I switched cable TV services. In this way I got a single email address FOR LIFE. Why not do the same kind of thing for my PHONE NUMBER. A telephony provider or similar service seemed perfect.

Enter Google Voice.

I’d had a Google Voice account for years. I’d primarily used it when working or playing, in my basement, where cell coverage is spotty. Prior to Google Hangouts I would also use it as an alternate means of voice contact while playing old school PC games that did not contain their own voice engines. I hadn’t really utilized its features, but Google Voice always has held a dear place in my heart.

Long story short, here are the steps I followed to save my beloved phone number AND not screw with my work phone and its phone number:

  1. Obtain a free Google Voice account [In my case, this was done years ago].
  2. If multiple phones exist on your personal phone plan, change the primary phone number on the account. Because my family had more than just my [personal] phone on our account, I contacted my provider (Verizon) to disassociate my phone number as the account’s primary phone number. [This action is only possible via a phone call to Customer Service and is not available via their account tools online]. After doing so, I re-enrolled, on the provider’s web site, and associated my wife’s phone number as the account’s primary number. I did this so we would not lose access to our online account after I removed my [personal phone] from the account.
  3. Via Google Voice’s settings I ported my personal number into Google Voice. I PAID $20 for this, a ONE-TIME fee. The number is then forever — until I port it out, which I hope never to need to do — associated with my Google Voice account. [This action will wipe out my previous Google Voice number after a 90 day grace period. I do not care about that number, as no one really had it anyway, but if I wanted to keep it I could shell out another $20 and keep that one on the Google Voice account too.]
  4. Also in my Google Voice account, I added my work phone’s phone number as a ‘Forward calls to…’ destination. I opted to still be able to take calls on my other devices too (PC, for example).
  5. On my work phone I installed Google Voice and Google Hangouts (Hangouts is optional).
  6. In Google Hangouts’ preferences I turned on messaging, because I like Hangouts’ messaging over Google Voice’s messaging. It’s SMS and MMS. All good.

I can now:

  • Receive both work and personal numbers’ phone calls on my work phone.
  • Receive personal calls on my PC.
  • Work-text messages function normally on my work phone.
  • Personal-text messages function via Google Hangouts, on my work phone, Google Hangouts, on my PC…or any PC/Mac into which I am logged onto and upon which I want this to happen.
  • Voicemail messages to my personal number can be received in any of these same places.
  • Work-voicemails arrive on my phone in the usual fashion.

Bottom line: For $20, it was a no-brainer to save my personal phone number, as it will save me about $60/month, getting rid of my old personal phone (which I will sell), and I didn’t have to change everything that is associated to my personal phone number.

If you found this post useful please share it, and thank you for reading.

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Switching from Android to iOS for Phone

I’m switching over to having just the one phone versus having a personal phone and a work phone. When I go my new work phone (iPhone SE), a month or so ago, I realized its capabilities are sufficient enough to warrant saving the $60/month from maintaining my aging, but still lovely, Samsung Galaxy s5.

Because my s5 contract had a bit over a month until expiring, I had the luxury of being able to take my time moving accounts and finding analogous apps.

Android to iOS:

  • Google Inbox – Essentially the same experience on both devices
  • Chrome – Essentially the same experience on both devices
  • Podcasts – Podcast Addict -> iPhone Podcast app – The stock iPhone app is not as feature robust in its feature set. I’d like to tailor how many episodes I keep, by default, and also to customize each ‘cast’s settings. I’ll likely switch to another app when I get the time. Please comment below if you have suggestions.
  • Authenticators
    • Google – Essentially the same experience on both devices
    • LastPass – Essentially the same experience on both devices
    • Glympse – Mostly the same but I think I prefer the Android version. It’s probably just experiential bias at this point.
  • Google Cast – Better on Android, but I’d expect that.
  • Google Maps – Haven’t played with it yet.

Summary:

There is definitely no reason to spend the $60/month for the tiny nuances that make me favor a few Android features. The smaller screen is annoying, but that’s not a function of the OS; it’s the model of the phone. Perhaps I’d feel different if I had a larger iPhone.

I am interested in revisiting these thoughts after I’ve been solely iOS for six months when Android will seem like more of a distant memory.

The Jury is still out…wait…it’s not.

The phrase “The jury is still out on [insert subject here]…” is silly if used by inattentive court spectators who have not noticed the jury has indeed entered the room. So let us be clear.

The jury is in on global warming. The jury is composed of scientists. The scientists have ruled. This does not precluded the concept of long-term natural changes. This is not a binary topic, with either ‘this’ or ‘that’ being ‘true’.

The jury is in on evolution. Same thing. Scientists agree. This does not preclude the possibility of divine intervention. This is not a binary topic, with either ‘this’ or ‘that’ being ‘true’. The one can be said to be scientifically proved, the other can scientifically said to be non-provable. All is thus good. Those who value science, above superstition, have a bit of closure with still more questions to wet their appetites. Those who seek the solace of divinity can remain there, knowing no one will ever prove they’re wrong. These two camps can then have a hearty meal together and discuss common interests, like football and Adele.

Jury composition
Out of hundreds of thousands of scientists, will there be individual examples of nay-sayers? Sure. I hope there always will be dissent and improvements on any scientific discoveries. There should always be tweaking and refining, using the scientific method. Details will come to light. This thing will have been found to be 10 million years old versus 125,000 years old (example: the peach). That thing will be found to impact such and such more, or less dramatically than previously calculated, etc. However, the general gist of things pretty much remains once the group consensus has been reached.

So, if you say “The jury is still out on…”, regarding scientific matters, ask yourself how you came to utter that phrase. Did you arrive at it via an examination of the body of scientific evidence, or are you basing your opinion on the sound bites of pundits who are basing their own opinions on their beliefs and biases versus an examination of the data. Have you heard the same thing uttered, so many times, by do many people (possibly with the same employer), that it simply must be true?

You owe it to yourselves, and the rest of us, to at least make an effort to fact check.

It is with this in mind that I post very little regarding my views. I know a lot, and have read a lot, about some things, while other things, about which I may have strong FEELINGS, I do not have strong DATA — because I’ve not put in the time — and thus I consider myself unqualified to make pseudo fact-based proclamations. This is not to say I will not voice my opinions, but I will state them as opinions and not as facts.

Thoughts on the tendency toward thinking of issues in binary terms

The idea of a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, an ‘on’ or ‘off’, the ‘this is the answer, and not this other thing’ also disturbs me. Ideas and opinions are being based on a game show-like mentality, with people reaching for the big red buzzer like they’re on a timer, vomiting forth opinions before exerting much thought. Usually…hopefully…issues are more complex than that.

For me, this single tendency is, more than anything else, and explanation for the grid-lock we see in congress, much less our own holiday tables. If one takes an absolute stance — a binary choice — one cannot compromise. Without compromise we get some winners, but mostly everyone ends up losing, in the end.

What next?

All I ask is you consider what you positions you support and whether your stance is fact-based or opinion-based. Both are fine, but one should know oneself, and one’s motivations. Embrace them. Modify them as needed. More forward. Rinse. Repeat. Grow. Evolve.

But that’s just my opinion…with no facts to back any of it up.

I guess it’s time to go do some research.

Update:

If you are still reading this, some part of you is still thinking. Don’t waste those neurons. Go check out this interesting piece by Dr. John Duffy (pointed out to me today by my friend Lisa), about the importance of being available. When you are done reading it…go be available to someone.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-duffy-psyd/to-an-available-december-_b_8734384.html

Podcast Apps for Android – Podcast Addict Yay, Stitcher a Reluctant Nay

For podcast listening, I’ve been running both ‘Podcast Addict’ and ‘Stitcher Radion for Podcasts’ alongside each other, for a few months now, and this morning I disabled Stitcher’s offline downloading, relegating the app to a live-streaming app, for my phone, versus a file-player. Its lack of settings to restrict the number of downloads, at all, much less for specific podcasts, was the clincher for me.

Stitcher’s interface is prettier, with a tiled, smooth scroll, featuring a nice graphic sampling of the content. Note however that choosing the setting to ‘limit downloads to WiFi only’ had no effect, in my testing, in preventing a live-stream/live-play of a show. The distinction of a ‘download’ being limited to an off-line file listening session, versus a live-stream, is an important one. I consider any download — file or live stream — to be a download, because a download costs bandwidth allocations on my Verizon account. The app only considers a download to be a file. For my test I streamed a cast, disabled my WiFi, and the feed continued uninterrupted. I let it continue for one minute, just in case it had cached the audio, while connected, but it appeared to still be streaming using my mobile data connection. I will return to this and try it again the next time I’m able. I.e., do not take my word for it, that the app behaves this way, but be wary until you know for sure, lest you spend your mobile data unintentionally.

Podcast Addict’s interface is a bit clutzy. One needs to click the upper left corner and navigate among the primary areas via clicks. I would rather have an active drag interface where I can navigate where I wish, without raising my finger, and release on what I want. This would make the 30 traffic-light time stop more useful. Nonetheless, the app provides sophisticated storage features allowing both an app-wide and ‘cast-specific settings for the number of downloads to initiate, the number of downloads to keep, and auto-cleaning/purging. It also offers many sorting options.

I come at this with some bias. 99% of my podcast listening is off-line (non-streaming), in my car, during my commute. I am stingy with my phone data usage. For those of you who prefer live-streaming your radio and podcasts, Stitcher is wonderful and a good choice.

Test Rode an Indian Chief Vintage

2015-06-13

A year later, and I’m still eyeing up the Indian. See TwoWheelObsession’s ride review of the 2015 Scout here. He did a really fantastic job of describing the nuances of his ride.

2014-06-29
A friend of mine and I trekked to Madison, Wisconsin yesterday and test rode a couple of Indians. I took out the Chief Vintage while my friend rode the Chief Classic.

Upon mounting the bike, its amazing balance was immediately apparent and striking. Swaying it side to side made this 111 ci bike (roughly 1820 cc) feel like a 350 cc, making me feel my ’06 102 cu Roadstar is a bit top heavy. The balance must have been designed by a master Katana sword-maker’s gentle yet oh so precise hand.

Indian_2014 Chief Vintage

[Pictured: 2014 Indian Chief Vintage, and me, with my shirt over my left thumb making it look like I’m cramming my hands down my pants. Picture by Anthony Sadowski.]

The acceleration was electric smooth with each gear stage instantly responsive. It actually seemed to gain torque as the revs and gears increased upwardly. Changing gears seemed a teeny bit clunky at first, but that may have just been me getting used to the difference between it and my own bike. By the end of the ride that too was smooth.

Slowing down, for a roundabout, to a momentary stop, inspired no wobbling feeling; the bike wanted to stay upright. I turned the fork and proceeded on with the turning-ease of a scooter. Later, coming to a full stop for a moment prior to going through a stop sign, I repeated the process, not putting my foot down nor feeling the need to do so.

We journeyed out in the country and really throttled them up, to higher RPM’s. I never ran out of oomph. The bike just wanted to keep giving. It was a phenomenal experience. Even the slow city driving was fun.

Will I be getting one? Not any time soon. I am still loving my 1700 Road Star Silverado and I do not need two cruisers, but if it’s ever time for me to replace her, one of these will be at the top of my list. The bar has just been set awfully high.

Why did I switch from RoboForm to LastPass?

Some of you asked me why I switched from RoboForm to LastPass, over a year ago. It is due to its (LastPass’) support of duel authentication via Google Authenticator. In English, this means I use the Google Authenticator app, on my phone, to generate a key that I have to enter, along with my password, to access my secure online password vault. This means that my account cannot be hacked unless someone knows or can hack my password AND they have access to my phone, all simultaneously.
It was simple to switch from RoboForm, as I was able to export my existing passwords and safe notes. They have import options for several other password vaults too.

For more information on Google Authenticator app, see http://goo.gl/sbBxn . It also supports Google logins (of course) as well as Dropbox logins.

Update 2017-01-28
More friends have asked me for details over the years, so here goes:

Authentication Objects can be shared across aaccounts

One can share any login object with any other LastPass user. In a work context, one could allow one’s staff log into a domain account but not allow them to see the password. Then, when the employee quits/gets terminated, one could revoke the shared object, and they would be locked out.

Password Generation
I generate ALL passwords for sites, via LastPass, setting the generation attributes (number of characters, which characters/symbols can be used, whether it should be pronounceable, whether to avoid ambiguous characters, etc.). It is sometimes necessary to change these attributes based on a given site’s rules. For example, I might need to dumb down the generated password from 16 characters, to 12, if the site only supports 12. Other sites do not support special characters ($, or ^, etc.), so I have to turn them off for such sites. For the most part I just leave everything dialed up, to the most complex, because I do not know, or care to know, passwords for my sites. I just need to know my LastPass password, and my PC (or domain, if at work) password, and I’m good. Hell, I don’t even know my Google password. No need.

“Not A Problem” is Sometimes an Uppity Response

The “Thank You” Scenario

I have noticed the tendency the past few years, for someone to respond “Not a problem” instead of “You’re welcome”, when someone says “Thank you” or “I appreciate the help” to them.
 
Being sympathetic to the thanker in the conversation, I look at the “Not a problem” response as if the person is telling me, “Our interaction was not all that horrible. You didn’t bother me as much as one would think. You annoyed me only a little bit.”
 
I wonder why folks don’t just say “You’re welcome. It was my pleasure,” instead. I would think “Not a problem” would be appropriate if a person first said, “I am sorry to have bothered you,” or “I apologize for causing you more work.”
 
Do with it what you will.
 
The “Giving Direction” Scenario
 

More tolerable is saying “No problem” or “Not a problem” after receiving direction, but it still annoys me.  Example:

Boss: “I need you to have your re-writes done by Tuesday.”

Employee: “Not a problem.”

While the employee might be accurate, that performing their job duty is not an undue stress on them, the boss typically has that consideration low on her list.  She simply wants her document completed and turned in so she can move it forward.  The employee is not doing the boss a favor.  He is doing his job.

 
 
In both scenarios above, I am seeing a tendency to be less respectful to others, less thankful, less responsible for one’s actions, in favor of using diffusing language.  Perhaps it is an attempt to remove oneself from the moment, or perhaps it is just dynamic dialect in action.


[Author’s note: This posting was originally posted back in the summer of 2007, but I edited it, in 2013, to separate the two sections for readability.]

Google Talk, Google Voice, Google Chat – Differences and Uses Explained

Google Talk and Google Chat – http://www.google.com/talk/

These two services have effectively merged over the years, and even Google’s documents intermingle the documentation of the two.


Google Chat:
 This specifically refers to the Jabber protocol compatible text chat portion of the service, as near as I can tell.  Thus, one can use Spark, PSI, Trillian, to use the service, or simply use the chat feature from within Gmail itself (which is what most people will do).

Google Talk: This adds the audio and video components.
Install it as either a browser plug-in or desktop software.


Plug-in – 
http://support.google.com/chat/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=159499 – PC & Mac – Offers video/audio chat within Gmail, iGoogle, and orkut


Desktop Software –
 http://www.google.com/talk/about.html – PC Only – Text and voice chatting, free multiple-user audio conferencing, file transfers, free PC-to-PC calls

Google Voice –  http://goo.gl/rVPt0

Google Voice provides one phone number for all your phones, should you wish to have one.  Two example scenarios of the utility of this feature are below.

[Note that phone number porting, of your cell phone or land line number, is available for a fee.  I do not recommend this though, since you will then have to get a new phone number, for your cell phone, from your provider, to retain that device with a phone service.  It is a useful feature for those of you who do not want to inform your contacts of your new or additional phone number. Personally, I just told people to use my Google Voice number instead of my cell number, and all was well.  If they failed to do so, and continue to use my real, service provider given number, my cell phone still rings; the calls are simply not forwarded also to my other Google Voice devices. – d.r.]

Scenario #1: Having the Google Voice Phone Number Ring on Multiple Devices

  1. Obtain a Google Voice phone number.
  2. Via the Google Voice interface, add your existing phones’ numbers to be associated with your Google Voice account.  E.g, add your cell phone, home phone, and work phone.
  3. Click the check-box, in Google Voice, for any phone you wish to RING when your Google Voice number is called.
  4. Give the Google Voice phone number to your contacts.


When the Google Voice number is called, all of the devices that you define will ring.  Whichever phone you pick up will be the phone you use for the call.

Thus, you will not need to manually forward phones from anywhere to anywhere else.

In my testing, I got the following results:

Answering the call on the PC:

  • I called my Google Voice phone number.  All my devices (PC’s logged into gmail plus my cell phone) rang as expected.
  • I answered the call on my PC, talked, then pressed * , causing my cell phone to ring.  I answered the call, on the cell phone, and the cell was then conferenced in, via a three-way call.  I hung up, on the PC, and the two phones were then left successfully in the call.

Answering the call on the phone:

  • I called my Google Voice phone number.  All my devices (PC’s logged into gmail plus my cell phone) rang as expected.
  • I answered the call on my phone, talked, then pressed *, and nothing happened on my PC.  I was not able to take over the call, on my PC.  Perhaps this was a problem with my phone, since I heard no * tone, or perhaps it is only designed to go one way. The Google help page athttp://support.google.com/voice/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=115080 does not address the issue of failures transferring from phone to PC.  I submitted a “Rate this article” review as follows:

This does not address failure situations. I can transfer easily from PC to phone, via *, but pressing *, on the phone, will not transfer calls back to the PC. Nothing happens on the PC, and I’m using Chrome. Thus, the KB item does not specifically state what to do in such situations, although it does state calls could be picked up “from your desk”, implying the feature is possible.

You can make outbound calls, from your Google Voice number, only from devices that have been enabled.  Thus, you can use the PC, via Google Talk, easily.  You could only use your cell phones or house phones, with that number, if you port your Google Voice number to those devices.  If you do not port the number, your outbound calls from those devices will simply function as usual, originating from their usual phone numbers.  See below Scenario #2.

Scenario #2 – Use your Google Voice number only from your PC

If you do not wish to add cell phones and/or land lines to the mix, you can simply use your Google Voice number as an originating number when calling from your PC via Google Talk.

You can also use its voicemail feature, on your cell phone, and keep the “forward calls to…” turned off, for the cell phone.  In this fashion you will easily be able to use Google Voice voicemail, and all its online features — also available on your phone — without having to give out your Google Voice phone number. See the below ‘Voicemail’ section for more details.

Google Voice Mail

You can simply dial your Google Voice number — from any phone — press *, enter your PIN when the greeting starts playing, and access your messages.  If you have a smart phone, you can download the Voice application, and even more easily access your messages.

You can have individualized voicemail greetings based on the caller’s ID.

See http://support.google.com/voice/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=164648 for voicemail configuration information.

Additional Information

See http://goo.gl/hNNhb for information on how to choose your Google Voice phone number.

How Google Voice works: http://goo.gl/FkQwG 

Google Voice is not a phone service but is compatible with phone services.  For example, you can utilize it through a VoIP service (such as Google Talk), a cell phone, a land line, your work phone, etc.  There is no software to install; the set up is all done via the Google Voice site.

Its voicemail is likely superior to your current voicemail. 

You can define which devices ring based on who is calling.

My Scenario

I utilize these services as follows:

  • I have a Google Voice phone number.  The system let me choose an available number that met my criteria.  Thus, the number is almost identical to one of my other device’s phone number, with the XXX-YYY-XXX x’s being the same.  Only the YYY value is new, and thus the number was easy for me to memorize.


  • When I am in my basement office I make all outbound calls via my PC headset, because my cell reception down there is weak.  If I want to continue the call I am on, I press the * button, and my cell phone rings.  Note that my current call is NOT interrupted.  When I answer the call, on my cell, the call is seamlessly conferenced, to my phone, and I can then hang up, on my PC, and leave the basement and take the call with me. The person with whom I am talking receives no beeps or interruptions, and they do not even know I have transferred devices unless I choose to share that with them.

#Unfit2BTied – The Vasectomy Live-Tweets

From December, 2011:
It being my first vasectomy, I didn’t know what to expect…aside from wanting to tweet the event, of course.
To read this properly, begin at the bottom and work your way up through the document.
I did not think to capture these until a while afterward, and I think I may have missed a few, but whatteva.
My twitter: https://twitter.com/ebsewiNote they might still be available on Twitter via the #Unfit2BTied. <- Click me to check it out on Twitter.

The Tweets:
ebsewi ebsewi 
@vlmedina To be clear, the ‘blows out the gunk’ comment was with regard to positive #writing effects & not the #Unfit2BTied thread.
ebsewi ebsewi 
Too soon for the standing desk apparently. A day of pillows commences. #Unfit2BTied
ebsewi ebsewi 
To those of you who Facebook-poked me today, know that I am not allowed to poke you back for several days, per doc’s orders. #Unfit2BTied
ebsewi ebsewi 
And before I take a tweet break, my final #Unfit2BTied (or is it?): Go forth and DIVIDE BY ZERO ERROR
ebsewi ebsewi 
For some reason I’m feeling less of an affinity with bunnies.#Unfit2BTied
ebsewi ebsewi 
A friend advised an underwear-based supporter from the hockey store. Was going to buy it but it didn’t come with a goalie mask. #Unfit2BTied
ebsewi ebsewi 
When I retire I’m thinking a return to the work force as a surrogate is now off the table. #Unfit2BTied
ebsewi ebsewi 
Whoever started “No White After Labor Day” was a frickin’ prophet. #Unfit2BTied.
ebsewi ebsewi 
1 more for the playlist-end: ‘Swing low, Sweet Chariot’/’Lay Down Sally’ mash-up. #Unfit2BTied
ebsewi ebsewi 
Those worms from Dune were awesome. I wonder if they minded those hooks. #Unfit2BTied
ebsewi ebsewi 
That couple with 19 kids can afford to expect less, proportionately, from each kid. #LoweredExpectations #Unfit2BTied
ebsewi ebsewi 
“So, what attracted you to this line of work, Doc? Moments like this, or the money?” #Unfit2BTied
ebsewi ebsewi 
I wonder why no one offers me giblets at Thanksgiving. Always dug ’em as a kid. #Unfit2BTied
ebsewi ebsewi 
Should have worn a big red nose & brought a buzzer. #Unfit2BTied #Operation
ebsewi ebsewi 
“Expect a brief prick.” Sounds like my mother-in-law’s advice to my wife. #Honeymoon #Unfit2BTied
ebsewi ebsewi 
Humming “It’s Cold Outside” & thinking I should have made a playlist. #Unfit2BTied #Pandora
ebsewi ebsewi 
Should have worn shades. Feeling naughty when I make eye contact #Unfit2BTied #CatholicUpbringing
ebsewi ebsewi 
Is it inappropriate to ask my doctor what scent he is wearing? #Unfit2BTied
ebsewi ebsewi 
Entering the building. I had expected thunder & lightning. Seems too cheery. #Unfit2BTied
Live-Tweeting, during the procedure, begins above this line.
ebsewi ebsewi 
Off to bed, People. Look for #Unfit2BTied around 10:30AM CT/ 4:30PM Greenwich time 2011-12-23 for my live reporting from my vasectomy.
ebsewi ebsewi 
#Unfit2BTied will be thoughts that occur to me during my vasectomy but they may not be directly related. 2011-12-23 apx 10:45 AM CT forward

"Portal", "Portal 2", and Steam

Below is information I sent to a friend of mine recently.  I've had a few messages from people asking me “What's this Portal game you've been going on about?”, and “What's this Steam thingie?”  


Some background for you before diving in the links:


Portal


“Portal” and “Portal 2” are multi-platform games capable of being run on PC, PS3, Linux (I think), Xbox, and Mac.  Players on any platform can play the multi-player portion of “Portal 2” with each other.


The game is non-violent, unless you count the various AI entities trying to kill you.


“Portal” and “Portal 2” are often available on Steam for crazy low prices.  One can even buy multi-packs so as to gift copies to friends.  As I type this, “Portal” is $9.99 and “Portal 2” is $19.99, but I bought both of them, as a package, for under $10 over the holidays.  All you need to do is add them to your wishlist, on Steam, and then you'll get an email when they go on sale.


“Portal” has no multi-player, but “Portal 2” has one that is great fun.  Voice works across platforms, by the way.


 Steam


I play the game via the Steam gaming network (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steam_(software) ) .  Steam happens to be owned by Valve, which also created “Portal”, but this is a coincidence.  That is, I play other games that are simply downloaded and played, via Steam, that were not created by Valve.  Steam is a free online service via which you can buy and download games and connect up with your friends, within Steam, for playing the games.


A Steam account is FREE.  Several games, such as “PlanetSide 2” (hilarious review at http://angryjoeshow.com/2012/12/planetside-2-angry-review/) are amazing…and again, FREE.  To get the hang of Steam, I suggest creating an account, installing their client software, and downloading a free game.  


Note that the client software has a low overhead.  I set mine not to launch at Windows boot and only launch manually, but it can of course be there all the time if you want it to be.


Steam often has enormous specials where games are .99 or a couple of bucks.



Links:


Portal: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal_(video_game)


Portal 2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal_2


Official Site at Valve: http://www.valvecorporation.com/


Sign up for a Steam account: http://store.steampowered.com