Archive for January, 2006

Conference Calling, Free

Monday, January 30th, 2006

Conference calls (also known as voice bridges) can be incredibly handy, whether for having a business meeting with far-flung participants or just chatting with all of your siblings at once. My local phone company lets you set up a three-way conference, but that's often not enough people. A service called Free Conference lets you set up a conference call with up to 100 participants, and is, as the name implies, free.

There are two types of free conferences: Web-scheduled conferences have a guaranteed time slot at a specific time for a specific number of participants. You reserve this time slot in advance using the Free Conference web site and call the dial-in telephone number the site issues to you. Reservationless conferences allow you to call any time you wish, and you can choose to call any of the conference bridge phone numbers (a list of them is here) but there is no guarantee that there will be sufficient space for your conference on any given conference server at any given time. Reservationless conferences are cool because they're anonymous, you don't even need to create an account at

The free conferences include spiffy features such as muting (where the "presenter" can keep listeners from interrupting) and music-on-hold while the first caller waits for other participants to call in. You can upgrade to calls with extra features — such as having a toll-free number for participants to call and conference recording — but that's optional. Several of my colleagues have used the service (both as a conference originator and a participant) and swear that it's a great service, even at the free level.

Try it for yourself at

Send an SMS via E-mail

Thursday, January 26th, 2006

Want to send an SMS (text message) to a friend's mobile phone from your computer? All mobile providers let you do this, but there's a different procedure for each service. Instead, use Teleflip: just send an e-mail message to (Use all ten digits of the number, hyphens are OK but not required.) The service is free.

Tell Me All About It

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

Tell Me at (800) 555-TELL delivers all sorts of useful information rolled up into a nifty voice-recognition system. Say "news center" for business or sports news, "weather" for your local weather and forecast, or "entertainment" for soap opera updates, horoscopes, and a blackjack game. The service is particularly useful for a quick fix of regional information such as movie times and traffic reports. The call is free, and the amount of advertising is minimal.

Faxes as Online Art

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

Send a one-page fax to  1-855-330-1239 (updated 7/12/2014), and watch as it magically appears on the fax toy home page. You can also view and rate the pages that other people have faxed in. There's an RSS feed to watch incoming faxes, too.

REC Dial-A-Stream

Sunday, January 22nd, 2006

REC Dial-A-Stream is a brings webcasts of other networks, such as the W0KIE Satellite Radio Network, within reach of the telephone. With Dial-A-Stream, you can listen to your favorite live programming when you are not near a computer or a C-band satellite receiver. Shows include TechThis, This Week in Amateur Radio, and the Fun Zone.

The number is (480) 422-0088, and more info is available here.

REC started over 20 years ago by providing entertaining things you can reach by telephone. I was calling REC's L.A.-based comment lines back in the '80s.

You SHOULD call

Friday, January 20th, 2006

"This is just a simple experiment: Post a phone number on the web, and allow people to leave voice messages, which in turn can be downloaded off the website. Who will call,why will they call and what will they say?" You can leave a message at 213-805-0561 and listen to messages others have left at

Rejection Hotline: Let Me Down Easy

Friday, January 20th, 2006

"Hello! This is not the person you were trying to call. The person who gave you this Rejection Hotline number did not want you to have their real number. We know this sucks, but don't be too devastated."

When you give a Rejection Hotline number to a wanna-be date who just doesn't interest you, they'll hear that message. There are 70 numbers across the U.S. — we were jilted by the one in Los Angeles: 310-217-7638, but you can get a complete list at The Hotline received more than 18 million calls last year, according to this article in the Houston Chronicle.

Call Jack Bauer

Friday, January 20th, 2006

(888) 924-5225: a recorded message about the new season of the TV show "24"

Free Directory Assistance (411)

Thursday, January 19th, 2006

Tired of paying $2 or $3 for directory assistance? 1-800-FREE411 (that's 1-800-373-3411) will provide the phone number for businesses, government offices, and residences across the U.S. It's advertising-supported: if you ask for a particular florist, it might give you a 12-second pitch for a different florist and ask if you want to connect to them instead. It's run by a nifty voice-recognition system… when I didn't speak clearly, though, I was immediately forward to an actual human for help.

More info about FREE411.

If You’d Like to Make a Call, Please Hang Up and Try Again

Thursday, January 19th, 2006

OK, so this site's devoted to interesting telephone numbers and other phone phun. You, dear reader, are welcome to submit the interesting phone numbers you find. Here are the ground rules for all numbers listed here. The phone numbers must be legal, free (e.g. no 1-900 or similar numbers), and clean (no p0rn). The numbers may be anywhere in the U.S., so you may end up paying long distance charges… unless you call from your toll-free mobile phone or call from work :)