phone with a digital answering machine
January 19, 2005 10:38 AM   Subscribe

ProductFilter: I'd like a phone with a digital answering machine that can be set to be absolutely silent by default, but which will ring if the caller enters a numeric password.

I really, really hate having my sleep interrupted and so would like to be able to switch my phone into silent-mode so that wrong numbers, people misjudging my sleep schedule, etc., can't wake me, but family emergencies still could. Does anyone know of such? And I mean total silence -- it doesn't ring; I don't hear the message arriving; nothing.

(This is one of many cases in which I feel a really obviously desirable feature is hard to find... but I'm generally out of step.)
posted by Zed_Lopez to Technology (8 answers total)
Hmmmm... maybe you could use your computer as an answering machine and program it to do this? I've never heard of an off-the-shelf product that does as you suggest.
posted by grouse at 12:20 PM on January 19, 2005

Great feature idea. I have the electronics background if you have the start up money :P

There distinctive ring service, but I don't think it addresses the problem you have completely. I'm not a telephone expert, but on a residential line I think it would have to be answered before you could implement this type of thing.

No doubt grouse is right, it must be possible to create an all software solution using a modem for your answering machine...
posted by Chuckles at 1:27 PM on January 19, 2005

Here's an idea... Turn the ringer on your phone off at night, turn down the volume on your digital answering machine and set the outgoing message to instruct people to call a disposable cell phone (entering a numeric password as it were) that you store on your nightstand and which you (as a further barrier) set to ring audibly only for specific numbers.

You might also be able to do the same thing if your local phone service offers voice mail. Then just turn off your main phone's ringer and sleep soundly.
posted by Jeff Howard at 1:32 PM on January 19, 2005

You are not alone in this wish,
(unless you posted it there too)
posted by milovoo at 2:56 PM on January 19, 2005

Response by poster: Nope, milovoo, it wasn't me.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 4:36 PM on January 19, 2005

I think Grouse is on the right track - use your PC as your answering machine.

Use a popular terminal emulator with scripting capabilties to issue modem AT commands. I used to do kludgy stuff similar this in the early nineties with ProComm Plus and scripts cobbled together from snippets off their bbs. I'm assuming this isn't arcane knowledge quite yet and is actually easier to do today than it was back then.

Also, if you want to go this route, do a search on PBX software. Some of the feature-rich answering machine software comes close to what you're describing.
posted by klarck at 7:14 PM on January 19, 2005

It appears that Verizon offers a product called Do Not Disturb that does exactly what you want. Assuming that deregulation allows you to choose a local telephone provider in your area, you can switch to Verizon and get that feature.

Unwanted Calls Consumer Solutions
posted by dhartung at 9:49 PM on January 19, 2005

I had a Panasonic machine that was mostly what you describe, except it was an old tape-based machine. I would check their product line. They definitly had silent answer and a code to pass through.
posted by Goofyy at 4:43 AM on January 20, 2005

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