Get a ‘Portable’ Virtual Phone Number For Your Small Business


It can be dangerous to give out your phone number to people you don’t know, and that’s normally the case when a website asks you for your phone number. Fortunately, just like with anonymous email addresses and debit cards, you can also grab an anonymous, virtual phone number to mask your real number.When you use a virtual phone number, only that number is known, not your real number, even though the virtual number might ring your real phone to establish the phone call. Anyone you call, and anyone who calls your virtual number, cannot see your real phone number.

In the past, clients and consumers were wary of businesses operating from their homes. Knowing this, many home business owners sought ways, many of which were expensive, to hide the fact they worked home. They’d obtain a box at a local mail store and hire an answering service. Today, home based businesses are normal and only a few clients or consumers question it. Further, the options to create a professional identity, have become more affordable.

For a small business, virtual PBX services are a godsend. They provide a small business with all of the bells and whistles of a robust, business-class phone system for as low as $10/ month.They work with your existing phone lines; they have cool apps that make them easy to manage; they make it possible for your whole team to be contacted through one number; and they are easy to scale. There is one catch that you should be aware of: the number you are assigned through a virtual PBX service may not be “portable.”

What does it mean for a number to not be portable? It means that you can’t take the number with you if you decide to change services. Unlike cell phone services, residential and business VoIP phone services, and traditional landline companies, virtual PBX services are not required by the FTC to let you take your number with you (unless it’s an 800 number) to another service.

There are two solutions to this problem:

1 Sign up with a virtual PBX provider that allows you to port your number out. (RingCentral Mobile is a high quality service that we have verified does allow this.)

2 Sign up with whichever virtual PBX provider you prefer that doesn’t charge for porting a number into the service and verify that you like the service. (Most don’t, but you can double check that the one you like doesn’t by looking at the “Numbers” section of our Detailed Reviews grid, such as this one for Then, sign up with a low cost phone service provider that doesn’t require a long term contract (like a residential VoIP provider). Port your number from the low cost phone service provider to the virtual PBX service and then cancel the phone service.

The first method is the easiest and the cheapest. The second method is significantly more complicated, but it will ensure that the number is legally yours according to the FTC.

Mapping The Dominance Of Airbnb On Athens

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Airbnb has effectively created a new category of rental housing. This new category — called ‘short-term rentals’ — exemplifies a software-driven, platform-mediated market that occupies the gap between traditional residential rental housing and hotel accommodation.

A prime example of the corporate sharing economy, the American company operates an online marketplace and — with nearly 5 million listings in 81,000 cities and over 300 million check-ins — it has established itself as the world’s largest peer-to-peer hospitality intermediary. Guests benefit from the ease of use, decent rates, access to peer reviews, and a variety of housing options in neighborhoods not traditionally geared to tourism. Hosts benefit from the access to a huge audience, flexible living arrangements, and a steady flow of extra income in these times of economic crisis.

Nonetheless, Airbnb’s impact on cities and housing markets is not immediately obvious.

On the positive side, the company claims that the short-term rental market increases tourism and its economic benefits. It also provides additional income for hosts, particularly those who would not otherwise rent out their housing unit or rooms to longer term tenants, while benefiting neighborhoods that tourists traditionally do not visit, bringing additional customers to local businesses.

On the negative side, local communities and housing advocates point out that Airbnb is making it easier to illegally rent out apartment units to tourists, while taking those units off the market for full-time residents and driving housing costs higher, negatively affecting the quality of life in residential areas.

Accordingly, hotel associations are concerned that short-term rentals function as hotels but have an unfair advantage because they don’t pay taxes and violate safety and zoning regulations.

Attempts to regulate Airbnb, however, have encountered a significant pushback from the company, which summons a powerful weapon through disruptive business and lobbying strategies and by mobilising its community to protest proposed reforms and expand its political influence. While Airbnb and its defenders insist that these reforms must be updated to accommodate the new possibilities presented by the sharing economy, its opponents argue that Airbnb aims to avoid regulation and taxation, and threatens affordable housing in cities.

The company, which is based in San Francisco, was founded in 2008 as a way for people to easily list and rent out their spare rooms or their homes online. There has been a widespread concern, however, that a large amount of the activity on Airbnb is not ‘home sharing’, but rather a new form of de facto hotel that fuels gentrification and displacement.

In response to this concern, I set out to find how Airbnb is really being used in and affecting the Greek capital.

Airbnb’s increasing growth in Athens To understand the impact of Airbnb on housing in Athens, I downloaded and analysed a dataset compiled by the independent, non-commercial monitoring service Inside Airbnb, which tracks the flow of ads on the online platform.

The data covers the city centre of the Athens urban area, the largest in Greece and one of the most populated urban areas in Europe, sprawling across the central plain of Attica. The study period is May 26, 2009 — May 9, 2017, and every Airbnb listing which existed at any point in this period in the city centre of the Athens urban area has been included in the analysis. Top web design company visit Vivid Designs

In 2017, there were 5,127 listings reserved at least once on Airbnb in Athens — a 6.8% increase from the previous year (4,801 listings), and a 56.5% increase from 2015 (3,275 listings).

It is not the case that there are 5,127 listings receiving reservations, but rather the fact is that, on average, half of the listings available in Athens in a given month receive at least one review from a guest.

Serving as the glue of the community, reviews can be used as an indicator of Airbnb activity. This metric lets hosts or guests to leave a detailed review of their experience. Receiving a positive review from a guest is absolutely vital for a host to have more reservations and they usually encourage guests to leave a review. According to Niels van Doorn, Assistant Professor of New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam and Principal Investigator of the Platform Labor research project, “such ratings have become a major decentralized and scalable management technique that outsources quality control to customers of on-demand platforms, creating a generalized audit culture in which service providers are continually pushed to self-optimize and cater to the customer’s every whim.”

Indeed, serious Airbnb entrepreneurs may well refurbish their units to increase their success with the service. But still, the only necessary step for converting a long-term rental to a short-term one and for scoring quick money through Airbnb is just to evict the existing tenants, or not replace them when they depart.

Entire-home listings of high availability dominate Athens Before proceeding, let’s remind ourselves that helping each other out by sharing our rooms or houses is one thing while commodifying them by charging a fee for their use is quite another. And this leads us to the more innovative aspect of the sharing economy, which is to disturb our material reality; according to author and critic Sebastian Olma, “to coordinate supply and demand of products and services that in their present form were previously unavailable on the market;” in our case, to allow people to sublet their houses.

It seems quite obvious, then, that, despite Airbnb’s outreach focus on small scale and occasional uses of its platform (the way, for example, that homeowners can pay their household regular expenses by hosting guests occasionally), most regulatory scrutiny of short-term rentals has been focused on entire homes or apartments. Of course, this scrutiny is not just limited to the room types in a given area — especially when it comes to Athens, where most of the listings are entire homes or apartments — but it is also extended to a listing’s availability and activity.

An Airbnb host can setup a calendar for their listing so that it is only available for a few days or weeks a year, while other listings are available all year round. Depending on its availability and activity, a home converted to full-time Airbnb use could be more like a hotel, disruptive for neighbors, taking away housing, and thereby fuelling gentrification across the city.

Yes, 91.6% of the Airbnb listings in Athens are available for more than 60 days a year. Keep in mind that the calculation of availability for each listing through tracks whether a listing is reported as available or unavailable on its calendar. This approach does not differentiate booked from unavailable properties, which means that the statistics could have underestimated the availability of properties.

Occasional VS commercial operators Short-term rentals may also impact the housing shortage in Athens by offering a more lucrative alternative or a more flexible living arrangement to listing a unit on the long-term rental market.

With an average price of €55 per night across Athens, it would not be a hustle for some landlords to evict a tenant for the financial benefits of entering the sharing economy, right? The essence of sharing, however, does not involve the exchange of money. Again, sharing only happens in the absence of market transactions.

This is why the image of a family occasionally renting a spare room in their home, or perhaps renting their entire home for a brief period of time while they are out of town, is not representative of Athens anymore (as if it ever was).

But how can we distinguish commercial from occasional operators?

One way to do this is to look at hosts who have multiple listings on Airbnb. By definition a commercial operator is a host with more than one entire home listing, since only one of their listings could be their primary residence.

Estimating commercial operators this way will dramatically underestimate their numbers, since it will fail to identify hosts who have a single listing which is not their primary residence and which they run as a business. It will also fail to identify hosts who operate their listings via multiple Airbnb accounts. It is a useful first approximation though.

A ‘multi-listing’ is, thus, defined as an entire-home listing whose host has at least one other entire-home listing, or a private-room listing whose host has at least two other private-room listings.

Commercial operators that control multiple entire-home/apartment listings or large portfolios of private rooms are a 43.8% of hosts in Athens.

Here’s the top 10 of them for 2017:

Eazybnb Team — 58 listings George — 47 Dean — 43 Miglen — 29 Homm — 25 Helena —20 Home Rentality — 19 Dima — 17 Cleopatra — 17 Blueground — 16 The ghost hotels of Athens Most discussion of Airbnb’s impact on housing availability and affordability focuses on entire-home listings and for good reason. These are the listings which, if rented sufficiently often throughout the year, can no longer be housing a long-term tenant. Private room listings, by contrast, are generally assumed to have little if any impact on housing markets, since they generally do not displace renters. Best Website development services in Chennai

If we look at groupings of private rooms rented by a single host in the same building, or in what the Canadian housing advocacy group Fairbnb has called ‘ghost hotel’, this assumption is clearly false.

Most ghost hotels in Athens comprise 2 to 5 private-room listings. The most striking fact about Athens’ ghost hotels, apart from simply their existence, is that one of them has 40 private-room listings and that it is a real hotel.

Among others, ghost hotels in Athens include:

a seven-bedroom “gem of 1930 Bauhaus, featuring 3 independent apartments in the same building” and “two separate apartments in the same building that can host up to 13 persons”

Plaka, Exarchia, and Koukaki, top the Airbnb chart, surprises no one I have noticed that when there is a discussion involving affordable housing and Airbnb in Athens, someone will come forward and reference Koukaki as the #1 exclusive AirBnB zone in the city. Almost true, given the small size of the area.

Following the neighborhoods of Plaka and Exarchia, Koukaki ranks third on the Airbnb chart of Athens with 343 listings, and fifth on Airbnb’s top 16 neighborhoods to visit in 2016, with 801% growth from 2015.

FYI: at the time of this writing, there are only 65 apartments available in Koukaki on, the leading long-term rental platform in Greece.

As you might wonder, ‘#1 Event Venue In Athens | Acropolis View 360°!!!’ is the reason why Kerameikos is the most expensive neighborhood in Athens.

With an average price of €85 per night, Plaka ranks as the #2 most expensive neighborohood in the short-term rental market of Athens, followed by Pentagono, Rigillis, and Zappeion with €81, €75, and €74 per night respectively. I was hoping to see Kolonaki in the top 5, but it’s just #6 with €72,4 per night on average.

Taking those metrics one step further, the map below illustrates the distribution of all 5,127 Airbnb listings in the city centre of the Athens on May 9, 2017. Each circle represents a listing. The size of the circle is the listing’s price per night, and the colour is the room type.

Lastly, let’s take a closer look at the 5 neighborhoods with the greatest concentration of Airbnb listings in Athens.

Hopefully this data adds a bit more evidence to the discussion around the dominance of Airbnb in Athens and how it has become a symbol for quick value extraction. Now, the question is: How can we make the transition from a corporate consumer-driven to a citizen-centric sharing economy?

I’d love to hear your examples of non-profit, community-based alternatives and how they support forms of exchange that could actually be called sharing.

Notes on methodology

I initially became interested in exploring the dominance of Airbnb in Athens after discovering Inside Airbnb’s dataset, and settled on this methodology after coming across UPGO’s analysis of Airbnb in New York zip codes.

Once I isolated the names of each neighborhood in Athens, I queried the dataset to search each neighborhood for available Airbnb listings (focusing on the three available room types), their hosts, availability, and price/night, among others. Using the lat/long coordinates for each listing, I mapped each listing to its neighborhood. All code is written in Python.


Airbnb provides NO PUBLIC DATA to help understand the use of their platform and the impact on cities around the world. Airbnb also provides NO DATA to cities or states to assist them in ensuring that Airbnb hosts and Airbnb are following the local laws. Tom Slee regularly scrapes the Airbnb site to produce maps and analysis of Airbnb use around the world. The data utilizes public information compiled from the Airbnb web-site including the availabiity calendar for 365 days in the future, and the reviews for each listing. Data is verified, cleansed, analyzed and aggregated. No ‘private’ information is being used. Names, photographs, listings and review details are all publicly displayed on the Airbnb site.


Follow these simple rules and you’ll become a Git and GitHub master

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In this article, I won’t cover how to create a GitHub profile or how to use the terminal to make a Git commit. Instead, I will explain why using Git and GitHub every day is so important, especially for those of you who are learning to code. I’ll also share and discuss the three simple rules that you can easily follow to become a master Git and GitHub user.

Why are Git and GitHub so important? If you are learning to code, chances are your most important goal is to eventually get a job as a software developer. In that case, the answer is very simple:

Learning Git and GitHub is incredibly important because 99% of the companies that can hire you will use Git and GitHub. Therefore, learning how to work with Git and GitHub make you more hirable and help you differentiate yourself from more junior developers.

What makes senior developers senior is not that they know the syntax of a given language better, but that they have experience working with large and complex projects with real users and business goals.

When you are learning to code, it’s hard to get that kind of experience. However, a simple way of getting real-world experience is by using the tools and methodologies used in real-world projects. Git and GitHub are an example of those.

Other things you can do are remote pair programming, contributing to open source, and building professionally-designed websites for your portfolio.

Even if you agree that mastering Git and GitHub will help you get a job, you might still be wondering:

“Why are Git and Github so important for companies?”

The short answer is that Git allows teams to efficiently and effectively contribute code to the same project in an asynchronous way. This empowers teams to collaborate better and thus allows them to solve bigger and more complex problems.

Git, which is a distributed version control system, also provides mechanisms to revert changes, create branches of code, solve merge conflicts, and so on. Those are very useful features that solve specific and common problems that every software team faces every day. And Git is the dominant solution nowadays.

GitHub, on the other hand, is an added layer on top of Git that provides solutions to other specific and common problems such as code reviews, pull requests, issue management/bug tracking, and so on.

Quick note: Even though Git is the go-to version control solution for most companies, GitHub has some strong competitors such as GitLab and Bitbucket. However, if you know how to use GitHub, you won’t have any problem working with GitLab or Bitbucket.

Now that you know why it’s so important to master Git and Github, it’s time to tell you the three simple rules to follow to easily become a professional Git and Github user while you are still learning to code.

How to master Git and Github with 3 simple rules

Just for some additional context, I’m the founder of Microverse, a school for remote software developers that is completely free until you get a job. As part of our 22-week program, we not only teach our students how to code, but we also give them plenty of guidance and structure for them to get real-world experience while in the program. Top web development company in Visakhapatnam

One of the things we ask our students to do is to follow the three rules you will find below in order to become professional Git and Github users. By the end of the training, working with Git, GitHub, branches, pull requests and code reviews becomes second nature for our students.

Before I go ahead and discuss the three simple rules for mastering Git and Github, please consider completing the following tasks:

If you are not familiar with Git or GitHub yet, you should complete this awesome tutorial from HubSpot. If you don’t know what the GitHub Flow is, you should learn about Github Flow since we will use it below. And now, without much further ado, the three simple rules to master Git and Github while learning how to code…

Rule #1: Create a Git repository for every new project Rule #2: Create a new branch for every new feature Rule #3: Use Pull Requests to merge code to Master Even if you are working on small and simple projects, and even if you are working alone, following those three rules every time you code will make you a Git and GitHub master user very quickly.

Let’s briefly break down each one of the rules so you understand what you are supposed to do and why each rule is important.

Rule #1: Create a Git repository for every new project This first rule is quite straightforward, but making a habit out of it is very important. Every time you start working on something new — your portfolio, a learning project, a solution to a coding challenge, and so on — you should create a new Git repository and push it to GitHub.

Having a dedicated repo is the first step to being able to use version control for every line of code you write. Using version control is how you will work once you join a company and start working on real-world projects. Learn this early and make it a habit.

Quick Note: if using the terminal becomes a hassle and makes you less likely to use Git for all your projects, consider using the Github Desktop app.

Rule #2: Create a new branch for every new feature Let’s say you are working on your portfolio and you want to build a new “Contact me” section/component. Create a dedicated branch for this new feature, give it a meaningful name (e.g. contact-me-section), and commit all the code to that specific branch.

If you don’t know what branches are, go back to the Github Flow reading that I recommended before.

Working with branches allows you and your team members to work on different features in a parallel way while keeping the specific code for each feature isolated from the rest. This makes it harder for unstable code to get merged into the main code base.

Even if you are the only person on your team, getting used to using feature branches will make the Github Flow process a breeze once you join a real job.

Rule #3: Use Pull Requests to merge code to Master Every repository starts with a master branch by default. You should never push changes directly to the master branch. Instead, you should use feature branches as described above, and open a new Pull Request to merge the feature branch code with the master branch code.

In a real job, someone will look at your Pull Request and do a code review before approving it. GitHub will even run automated tests to your code and let you know if there is an issue with it. You will also be notified if there is any merge conflict between your code and the code in the master branch. This can happen, for example, if another developer pushed a change to the master branch that affects a file that you also modified.

After your code has been reviewed, tested, and approved, your reviewer will give you thumbs up for you to merge the Pull Request, or they will directly merge your pull request.

Even if you are working alone, get used to creating Pull Requests as a way to merge your changes to the master branch. This, by the way, is the basic workflow used by almost every open source project. If you ever contribute to one (you should!), understanding this three rules will make it really easy for you to get your contribution accepted without any problem.

Wrapping up If you are still confused, just start slow and keep the three rules in mind. Don’t try to think about “How” to do things yet and focus on “What” to do and “Why” it’s important for now.

Once the “What” and the “Why” are clear, you can figure out the “How” when the times comes to do things. Once you have repeated this process 2–3 times, it will become really easy and natural for you.

I publish new articles every week based on the things that we teach our full-time students. I focus on practical tips and hacks that will make you learn fast while at the same time helping you build strong soft skills and making you more hirable. If you want to stay in touch, you can follow me on Twitter.