How to Deactivate Google Voice on the iPhone

When my company issued me an iPhone, I immediately set up Google Voice (GV) to work with the new number. When I realized there was a lag in receiving voicemail notifications through GV I logged into the admin and deactivated it. Even after that GV continued to receive my voicemail messages. Deleting the app did no good either. After some research I’ve discovered that call forwarding is going on, and that it can only be shut off through the carrier. Below are the codes you can call, by carrier, to automatically deactivate call forwarding for GV. If a carrier isn’t listed here it’s because I have no idea about the code.

Verizon subscribers:
Dial *73 then press [SEND].

AT&T and T-Mobile subscribers:
Dial ##004# then press [SEND].

Sprint and Nextel subscribers:
Dial *38 or *720 then press [SEND].

Sustainable Waste Management in Brazil

Trash management is an important issue for all nations, but particularly challenging for developing nations. In Brazil there are government mandates in place that are encouraging local recycling cooperatives and waste management business to work out sustainable solutions. The following from Al Jazeera explains further.

See also: 
Film Review: Waste Land 
Watch Waste Land Online! 
Jardim Gramacho Dump Closes

Buying & Unlocking a Blackberry to Use Overseas

RIM, the maker of the Blackberry, is struggling. The once-popular smartphone now appears antiquated in comparison to iPhones and Android-based devices. At the same time, I can’t think of a better temporary phone to use for overseas travel. Used Blackberry devices can be purchased for less than $100, and since they are quad band it’s possible to use them virtually anywhere in the world that has cell phone signal. All you need to to is buy a good device, unlock it and (either before the trip or once you are in the destination country) pop an activated sim card into it. Of course, you will likely want to perform a complete factory reset on the device and, if necessary, remove any IT policy that was put in place by the company of the former owner.

The best source I’ve found for purchasing a quality used Blackberry is Yes, I know the name sounds a bit odd and the website might not inspire confidence, but this outfit really is trustworthy. My first experience with was when I bought a Blackberry Curve for my daughter to use on Sprint. These are CDMA devices and thus don’t use chips, and are notorious for being unusable if reported as lost or stolen to Sprint. The Blackberry I ordered for my daughter was “clean” and I had no trouble at all getting it activated on her line. Just recently I bought two Blackberry devices to use in Brazil, both branded AT&T. They both came in perfect working order, although obviously “locked” to the AT&T network. That brings me to my next recommendation.

When I first considered getting these phones and unlocking them, I thought I’d go to a little shop I knew about in Newark, NJ that used to advertise unlocking phones for $25. Unfortunately I soon discovered that the store in question went out of business a while back. I checked a couple of stores in Manhattan and was given prices ranging from $35 – $45. Thinking this a bit pricey, I poked around online and found This website looks even more suspicious than but is totally reliable. I ordered one unlock code to try them out, receiving it by email shortly after paying (via Paypal). It worked just fine, so I then ordered a second code and again had no trouble unlocking the other phone.

I highly recommend both of these businesses for purchasing and unlocking a Blackberry for use on foreign GSM networks.

How to Remove a Blackberry IT Policy

Last week I bought a couple of used Blackberry devices to take with me on a trip to Brazil. Unfortunately, one of them had a very restrictive IT policy in place that made it impossible to do many things, including connect to wifi and shut off the password protection. After much digging online and trying different “solutions,” I finally found the one that worked.

Click here to go to the page with the solution.

Nepalese Children in Indian Circuses

It’s certainly nothing new. Indian circuses paying a relative pittance to take the children of impoverished Nepalese people and put them to work in the circus is simply a repetition of the ages-old pattern of exploiting the weak. However, just because it’s an old story in one of myriads of forms doesn’t mean it should be accepted. The film below, provided by Al Jazeera, highlights the work of the Esther Benjamins Memorial Foundation (EBMF) in rescuing children from enslavement in Indian slaves and either reuniting them with their families or provided them sanctuary.

EBMF works within the law, coordinating with the justice system, police and child welfare agencies to conduct raids on circuses believed to be employing underage workers. These kids are regularly subjected to physical abuse if their performance doesn’t meet standards, and many are sexually abused as well. Once they are with the circus they are at the mercy of the circus owners and managers. With a relatively new law in place forbidding the training and employment of anyone under age 18 in Indian circuses EBMF has better footing to conduct these raids. Corruption, as you will see in the video, continues to create obstacles despite the law.

A Place of Refuge in South Africa

It isn’t often I find anything worth watching on Netflix these days. After they lost their license agreements with several studies and with them a vast quantity of quality movie content, all subscribers have been left with are TV reruns, made-for-TV movies and some documentaries. Every so often, though, you can stumble across something good, like “Angels in the Dust.”

This documentary, released in 2007, opens a window into the lives of orphans in South Africa, many of whom have lost parents to HIV and who themselves are infected. Con and Marion Cloete, a white South African couple, walked away from their well-off suburban lifestyle in the early 1990s to open a home for children on a farm. Their three daughters ended up joining them as well, forgoing a private-school education to attend the school run by their parents. As a family they continue working with children in need on the farm.

What originally provoked Marion, in particular, were the Apartheid-era laws that forced domestic workers from keeping their children with them in whites-only areas past 9 months of age. There was no exception under the law, even if the children had no one to care for them. Marion was further discouraged from pursuing a teaching degree when she discovered that the government required black students to receive an education inferior to that of white students.

In the post-Apartheid era Con and Marion have found their greatest battle to be against HIV/AIDS. This documentary features many children who are HIV positive and became so either through rape or because they were commercially sexually exploited by their parents. Many of the children have lost parents to HIV. Further, Marion’s struggle includes actually having to convince parents to allow her to take them in to the hospital to begin antiretroviral treatments and then pursue an education in her school. One would think this to be an easy decision for any loving parent, but extreme poverty, lack of education and superstition conspire to keep many children away from the care they most desperately need.  A school-age child at home can help a mother with smaller children to take care of the home, and many people persist in their belief in natural remedies.

Con and Marion named their children’s home “Botshabelo,” which in Tswana means “place of refuge.”

This is a difficult documentary to watch in places, seeing children weeping for lost parents or facing death. It is a story that must be told, in any event, and I encourage everyone to watch it. You can either find it on Netflix, or watch it right here.