Archive for March, 2007

Dial Idol

Friday, March 30th, 2007

An interesting piece of phone-related software for reality show addicts: Dial Idol uses your phone modem to vote (and vote and vote) for your favorite contestants on American Idol and other shows that let viewers call in their votes.

What's particularly interesting is that Dial Idol measures the amount of busy signals to determine which contestants are getting the most votes, and weighs your voting towards your favorite contestants who are getting fewer votes, so that they don't get voted off. Even more interesting, the Dial Idol web site uses aggregate data from all voters' busy signals to estimate who's going to win. The authors claim that its accuracy rate is 87%, and that the software has accurately predicted the winner of every show it has covered.

Besides American Idol, Dial Idol can call in votes for Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, Canadian Idol, and Celebrity Duets. Dial Idol is free, available for Windows only.

Get Dial Idol

Free voice transcription

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

Here's a cool new service: when you call Jott and leave a voice message, the service will transcribe your recording and deliver it to you via e-mail or SMS. The free tool recently entered public beta: first you must go to the Jott web site and register your phone number. Next, you can call the Jott phone number at 1-877-JOTT-IT-NOW (1-877-568-8486) and record a message. A little while later, you will receive a transcript of your message in your e-mail. In addition, the transcript and an MP3 of your recording are made available at the Jott web site.

Enough typing: I called Jott to speak the rest of this entry. Here's what they transcribed (transcription mistakes included):

Jott to self on Wednesday, March 21, 2007 12:22 PM

So, this part of the message I didn't type, I called Jott and dictated it. The good part is I don't have to type it. The bad part is I can only talk for about 15 seconds before I get cut off, so that could be a real imitation to preserve it.

However, when your time runs out it says you can create a new Jott by pressing 1 and then you have another 15 seconds to ladder on for with another idea or continue your log entry like I am doing here.

I am not sure how useful this would really be for creating for writing in a blog or say writing of school paper, however, for writing down for saving quick ideas that you had in a car when you don't have note paper around it could be just to think or probably add the Jott phone number.

So that I can save any business ideas that I might have. Now this is about the fourth Jott I have done in a row here, so in a little while hopefully I will get some E-mails by notes transcribed and may be little time in right order.

As you can see, the transcript isn't perfect. To be fair, the Jott FAQ states multiple times to speak slowly and clearly, which maybe I didn't do as well as I could have. The company is vague about who does the transcriptions, except to say that it's a combination of software and human transcriptionists. (My first guess was Mechanical Turk, but that doesn't seem to be how they're doing it.) The four pieces of my transcript, each the maximum 15 seconds in length, arrived in my inbox out of order, so this really isn't a tool for dictating your great American novel. But it could be great way to save fleeting ideas when you don't have a notepad handy. The service was fast — I recorded my 4-part message at 12:25 PM, and received the first transcribed part at 12:35. The rest of it was in my inbox by 12:42, less than 20 minutes from when I recorded it.

What do you think of Jott? What could you use it for? Post a comment.

Nutrition hotline

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

Have a question about nutrition? Members of the Professional Order of Dietitians of Quebec (actually, Ordre professionnel des dietetistes du Quebec) will be available to answer questions about diet and health — today only from 9AM-4:30PM Eastern time. The number is 1-866- 233-3310.

Stop Credit Card Offers

Saturday, March 17th, 2007

Sick of getting credit card offers in the mail day after day? You can call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit to stop unsolicited credit card offers and insurance offers for 5 years. (Getting a permanent ban is a little more work, requiring sending your request via snail mail.) After you've done so, the major credit reporting agencies won't release your information to vultures companies that want to send you credit card offers.


Friday, March 16th, 2007

Keep an eye out for 1-800-YellowPages from AT&T. It's currently only available in Bakersfield, CA; Oklahoma City, OK; and Columbus, OH, but they're expanding soon.

According to the (surprisingly crappy) web site, it's "a new service offered by AT&T that provides free access to directory listings with a few touches to the phone keypad…Consumers get free access to directory listings while letting advertisers reach potential buyers at a critical moment of their purchasing decisions."

1-800-YellowPages: that's 800-935-5697… uh… -2437.


Thursday, March 15th, 2007

Even if you don't care one bit about the R. Kelley audio clips phone number, you might be interested in the service that makes it happen. That number, and many others, is provided by a company called SayNow. The SayNow web site reveals a list of popular musicians that each have their own phone numbers, including Ashley Tisdale (818-836-8040), Lil Fizz (415-944-8370), and Tyrese Gibson (818-206-9337). You can hear messages from, and leave messages for, each artist.

Perhaps best of all, the SayNow web site lets you listen to the messages that fans leave for those artists. It's funny-but-sad to listen in on messages from rabid tween fans.

You don't have to be a musician to get a number at SayNow: the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team, and the popular shopaholic web site Woot have dial-in numbers, too. Unless SayNow hides its clients really well, it looks like only 16 or so bands/companies are using it so far. Any publisher or community leader can sign up for their own number. This could be a great way for music groups/religious cults/whatever to gain a viral following.

Microsoft acquires TellMe

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Microsoft has acquired Tell Me, the phone service that delivers free yellow pages, news, stock quotes, etc.

The number is still (800) 555-TELL. deathwatch: day 20

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Feb. 22: "will be back in the next 5 days".

20 days later: still waiting.

The CEO says: "Nearly there, just working through design and set up, 100% guaranteed coming back up."

Can't… hold… breath… much… longer.

R. Kelly CD Preview

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Recording artist R. Kelly has set up a hotline where fans can hear snippets from his next album. Call (312) 278-3965 to hear a 6-minute message previewing songs from his upcoming CD "Double Up". That number is featured in his latest video.

The number doesn't work from phones with caller ID blocking. Remember kids, dial *82 first to unblock your number.

Kelly is awaiting trial in Chicago on child pornography charges. A'ight.

One phone number for everything

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

While telecommunications has made our lives easier in many ways, it has also introduced a number of complications. Most of us now have a home phone number, cell phone number, work phone number and perhaps others, all with their own voicemail, different PINs, and so on. Wouldn’t it be great if you could regain the simplicity of one phone number without sacrificing the conveniences you have become accustomed to?

That is the concept behind Grand Central, which provides one number "for life". The concept is this: your Grand Central number is tied to you, not to your phone. Grand Central provides a way to have all your voicemails in one place, for easy forwarding, replay or download. Voicemail greetings can be customized for each caller. And when you want to take calls, your Grand Central number will ring at whatever phone you're currently at. The service is free.

A new feature lets folks add a button to their web site that places a call connecting the caller to the site’s phones or voicemail while maintaining privacy on both ends (neither sees the other’s phone number).