Throw Out Your Phone
Skype on steroids

Chances are you have a cell phone, a work phone, a home phone, a couple of e-mail accounts, and maybe an instant-messaging program. With free software from VoxOx, you can keep them all in one place. Import contacts from all of your e-mail and IM accounts. Then, e-mail, IM, text, or call anyone you know, all through VoxOx.

VoxOx is similar to Skype, which allows users to make phone calls over the Internet. But VoxOx is far more robust. For example, every user gets a phone number, which shows up in the caller ID of the person receiving the call. If someone uses the number to call you, you can pick up at the computer or have the call forwarded to any phone. But there is one drawback: VoxOx gives users only two free hours of calls. Then, you can either pay a fee or get more free calls by watching ads.

The software is still in beta, and it has some kinks. During peak hours, our text messages were delayed, and initial attempts to make calls were unsuccessful. After a brief talk with tech support, the problem was solved, and the service worked fine. The company says most problems will be worked out before the service is officially launched early this year. Meanwhile, most features are available to the public in the beta version.

Personal Tech
Give your eyes a vacation

Do you get sore eyes by the end of a long day at the computer? Gunnar glasses, available with plain or prescription lenses, have a coating designed to filter the eye-straining light emitted by computer screens and fluorescent lights. The glasses, which cost $99 to $189, can be bought at GunnarOptiks.com and Amazon.com, as well as in some eye-care stores and optometrist offices. Though they take some getting used to, they definitely have a relaxing effect on screen-staring eyes.