I don't often write about hardware, let alone non-internet related hardware, but since I've found a really good gadget that has already made a big difference to me, I thought I'd share it. I've been getting a lot of those annoying phonecalls - 'we're not selling anything', 'we just want you to take part in a survey' or 'did you know about the government scheme?', to say nothing of the 'We're Windows technical support' rubbish. The Telephone Preference Service is about as much use as a wet Wednesday on a weekend so I looked around to see if I could find something that was a bit more helpful, and there is. It's a phone produced by BT called the 8500 which blocks up to 100% of nuisance calls.
The way that it works is that you put in a list of your VIP numbers - those friends and colleagues who ring you on a regular basis, or who you are happy to get a phone call from. You can have up to 200 listed if you're really popular. They just come straight through, and your phone rings, just as normal. However, what you can then do is to also bar numbers - such as international calls, and these always get blocked. (With the exception of your VIP list I think). You don't even hear the phone ring; the caller just gets a message saying that they have been blocked. You could also do the same thing for witheld numbers, or from a particular region and so on. For everyone else, you set up a message to say 'Before you get put through, you need to be announced' and the caller has to say who they are. The phone then rings, and you get to hear the name. You can then let them through always or just once, or you can block their number or send them to voicemail.
I have to say that it's a really nice service, and I'm delighted with it so far. You can get 1-4 handsets and they all update from the main phone. I'm sure that there are other devices out there that do a similar job, but this is the solution that I found, and I love it.
(Disclaimer: as with all of my other posts, this is not an advert, nor have I been paid to blog about it, and I'm just a happy customer of the product.)