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This is also what happens when you pick up the phone to place a call and someone is on the other end (as in they were actually trying to call you, not interrupting someone else's call-in-progress on an extension of the same line). Usually you do not realize this until the person calling you starts shouting "Hello!?" in his/her bewilderment of hearing the tones when you began dialing. If you frequently pick up the phone without it ringing and there is someone on the other end, either you are probably psychic - or you get a LOT of phone calls.

I had a cordless phone which had a broken ringer due to my dropping it on the floor one too many times. Since our wired phone was totally broken at the time, we had no ringer for a few hours until someone decided to go and buy a new phone later in the day. Anyways, I found that the old IBM MWave soundcard/modem in our computer would emit a tiny pop from the speakers when the phone line was ringing. By sitting in front of the computer with the phone and waiting for the nearly silent pop I managed to increase my call answering percentage from 0% all the way to a whopping 25%, not bad.

If you're actually in this situation, a computer with a modem can really help, connect using HyperTerminal or something direct to your modem's COM port and wait.

Eventually you'll see it.

RING

Hit talk and there you go.

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