Unplug for the Holidays

Unplug for the Holidays

Dec 19, 2011

Anyone with teenagers knows that around the holidays that it is frustrating to get teens off their phones, and it’s even more frustrating when your own phone goes off during a quiet dinner with the family. Sometimes it would be nice to just unplug. The problem with turning your phone off or just putting it on silent is that those calling have no way of knowing what you’re doing, which can lead to some frustrated and confused family and friends.

A company called First Orion has had an app aptly named PrivacyStar that allows you to block and trace phone numbers and text messages, but theres a hidden feature in this app that allows you to set a kind of away message for the holidays. While not applying to text messages, this will send any incoming call straight to voice mail and send them an away message text. After doing a few tests I was impressed at how well this worked. Texts were sent immediately and would arrive to the phone before my voice mail intro was finished. This wouldn’t work with landlines but then again, nothing will.

This feature is hidden in the settings menu because PrivacyStar is really intended to be used as a means to block texts and calls from unwanted persons including telemarketers. The service costs $2.99 a month but the app is free for a 7 day free trial. Seeing how other away messaging apps cost money for the few days this holiday taking advantage of this free week seems worth it.

PrivacyStar Home Screen

Maybe even investing two dollars into an app like Siesta Text is also a solution, which does the same text message response to phone calls and responds to text messages as well as text messages. Think of some of the applications: when at a meeting, you gain the peace of mind knowing that your phone will not go off and those trying to call you will not become frustrated in their efforts to reach you. Also, something like this is the perfect compliment to those with long commutes; allowing you to not be distracted by trying to show people that you’ve received their messages.

So for this holiday I would recommend taking advantage of PrivacyStar’s free trial, and if the automated away messaging service strikes your fancy, look into investing further.

Joseph Bertolini
Joseph is an Mechanical Engineering student at The Ohio State University as well as an amateur photographer.
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