Friday, March 6, 2009

New book about phone equipment and services

(press release about my own book)

A hundred years ago, telephones were simple. If you wanted to call someone, you picked up the receiver, cranked the crank, and waited for the nice lady to say, “Operator, may I help you?” Then you said something like, “I want to talk to Daddy,” or “I need the doctor;” and in a few seconds you were connected. You didn’t even need to know the phone numbers.

For equipment, maybe you could choose between an oak box on the kitchen wall, or a metal candlestick model on the hall table. If you lived in a high-tech area, maybe you could get a dial instead of a crank.

Regardless of the telephone style, you would pay to rent it month after month, and there was just one company in your town that you could do business with, and that company owned “your” phone.

Today the choices seem endless. Phones can be analog or digital, rotary or touch-tone, plain or fancy, corded, cordless, or cellular. You can connect through a local phone company, a national phone company, an international phone company, a TV company, a satellite company, a cellular company, or a VoIP company. Phone companies sell TV service. Cable television companies sell phone service. They both sell Internet service.

You can get a phone or phone system or a phone gadget from hundreds of sources, and buy it, rent it, lease it or may-be get a freebie. You can pay someone to install it, you can install it yourself, or you can get something that needs no installation.

An authoritative but easy-to-understand new book, “Phone Systems & Phones for Small Business and Home” by Michael N. Marcus helps people sort out their options. It covers basic phones, multi-line phone systems, add-ons like headsets, music-on-hold, paging systems, backup power and fax equipment — for professional offices, businesses and homes. There are sections on technology trends, telecommunications terminology, tools, wiring, troubleshooting, and much more.

The book will help people pick out the right size phone system, to minimize initial cost, and provide room to grow. It even deals with the important items that people really do need in a phone system, but are often left off sellers’ bids and proposals.

The book also sorts out the various technologies for making phone calls and accessing the Internet: conventional dial tone, ISDN, DSL, cable, fiber, T1 and VoIP.

Marcus’s book includes about 40 detailed hands-on product reviews. Recommendations range from a $12.99 home phone to complex multi-thousand-dollar business phone systems, plus a wide array of add-one to improve communications.

It will help readers avoid the worst mistakes of phone system buyers, and can help them decide if they can save money by installing their own home or business phones. The book will also help people quickly diagnose many common telecom troubles, and often fix them easily and inexpensively or maybe even for free.

Marcus says, “But even if you don’t plan to do your own phone work, by understanding what has to be done, you’re more likely to get the right thing done, and pay the right price. You could save much more than the price of this book.”

Some reader comments:

• Outstanding! An entertaining and sometimes humorous thorough education on phones and telecommunications. It’s a must-read for shoppers as well as salespeople.

• I’ve been in telecommunications for nearly 30 years, but I still learned a lot from this informative and entertaining book.

• After just three minutes I learned that a really annoying telephone problem could be cured for $4, instead of nearly $400. This book belongs in every office and many homes.

• This delightful book makes phones ultra-useful for people who run mini-Fortune 500 companies. Highly recommended.

The illustrated book has 396 pages. It is available from and other booksellers.

This is the third book on communications equipment written by Michael N. Marcus, a writer who has specialized in electronics and telecommunications for over 30 years. Marcus is a successful and popular explainer, known for mixing technology and humor. His humorous memoir “I Only Flunk My Brightest Students: stories from school and real life” was published in December.

If you get a new credit card, you can get a $30 certificate to pay for the book.

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