Throw out your answering machine and cancel the voice mail service. Your computer is the perfect tool for handling most telephone features. While the perfection of voice over IP is still in progress, there are plenty of phone applications your PC will perform more effectively than traditional services. Several years ago, I worked for a company that setup custom phone systems designed to integrate voice mail and email, in addition to routing all telephone traffic through a corporate computer network. Call Soft Pro does many of the same things for your home or small business phone line. Voice mail, caller ID, call blocking, speaker phone and email notification are standard features in Call Soft Pro. In addition, the software allows you to create separate mailboxes for each family member. Call scheduling allows you to auto-dial numbers at scheduled times to deliver a message (if the kids have cell phones send a curfew reminder). Distinctive rings identify callers with audible cues and call trees can direct inbound phone traffic to press 1. If you run a small business this adds a professional touch for a fraction of the prices charged for traditional phone equipment (the stuff I installed started in the $100k range). Software requires a voice capable modem installed on your PC.