Archive for April, 2008

Report the unidentified to the UFO Report Hotline

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

We all see things that at first blush don't make sense. Catch a glimpse of something out of the corner of your eye. Movement where you didn't expect it. Sometimes you know that it's just junk on the windshield, and a little Windex will take care of it. Other times, there just is no good explanation.

If you think your sighting rises above the level of "just junk", the folks at The National UFO Reporting Center may want to hear from you. If you've seen something within the past week, and can give information regarding time, date, location, and a description of what you saw, they'd love to hear from you at their hotline at 1-206-722-3000. The line is staffed 24 hours a day. They ask that if want to report an incident more than a week old, that you go to their website to fill out their online form or get their postal address to mail a report in.

These guys are serious about what they do here, so please don't submit any kind of joke or hoax report—I'm sure they've seem 'em all and won't have any problem just deleting the bogus stuff.

Put your cell phone on ICE

Monday, April 28th, 2008

While not everybody's running around with a cell phone today, there sure are a bunch of them out there. They're handy to carry along with you, so that you're never out of touch. And if you need to make a call, there's nothing like looking all over the place for a pay phone, finally finding one, and not having change or seeing that it's out of order.

Another handy thing about your cell phone: it may save your life. Your phone's contact list generally includes many if not all of the important people if your life. If you get hurt or are otherwise incapacitated, first responders may be able to use that contact information to get you help. But how do they know who in the list they ought to call?

It's a good idea to flag an entry as ICE—In Case of Emergency. Sure, you should carry your photo ID and emergency contact information in your wallet or purse, but it can't hurt to have a selected entry or two set aside as emergency contacts. While this doesn't guarantee that paramedics or fire fighters will be able to grab this info from your cell phone, we figure the more the merrier when it comes to giving them any help in getting their jobs done.

For a more in-depth discussion of this topic, visit the Urban Legends website at or read the Wikipedia article.

Kill junk phone calls by registering with the National Do Not Call Registry

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Tired of having your dinner interrupted? Really not interested in buying aluminum siding or changing your long distance carrier or subscribing to the newspaper? Have you registered your number with the National Do Not Call Registry?

While it won't stop all the calls, you can get rid of a lot of them by signing-up your home or cell phone number with the Registry. Once you're
on the list, you should see a reduction in the number of junk calls you get.

You can't register a business number, and there are certain types of calls that aren't covered, including political calls, calls from charities, and legitimate telephone surveys. In addition, anybody with whom you have a "business relationship" is exempt—if you have phoned them, bought something from them, or submitted any kind of application.

If after you're on the list you continue to get calls, the website has a complaint form where you can submit the details that will help the Federal Trade Commission to take action.

See who else is getting the same weird calls as you with WhoCallsMe?

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

Who IS that guy who keeps calling me? He never says why he's calling, just leaves a number and says I need to call back. After ignoring the call for a couple of days, it starts to grate on you. You Google the number but it comes up blank. What to do now?

WhoCallsMe? is a website where you can report calls like this, and maybe find out just who it is. Enter in your caller's number and see if anybody else has gotten this same call. Turns out lots of times it's a collection agency looking for the folks who had your phone number ten years ago.

Call 811 before you dig

Monday, April 21st, 2008

It used to be that utility poles were everywhere in our commercial and residential neighborhoods. Wires running hither and yon, making quite a mess of things. More and more, everything's underground now: electrical, telephone, water, sewer, gas, and more. That's great as far as the aesthetics go, but that presents a potential problem for anybody who has to dig a hole in the ground. Planting a tree? Building a garage? You run the risk of breaking into one or more of these buried services.

At very least, it makes a mess—who wants to have their nice new trench fill up with the contents of the neighborhood sewer? Break a phone line and your neighbors will be inconvenienced. Hit a buried power line, and that may be the last project you ever undertake.

Call 811 from anywhere in the country, and within a day or two representatives from your local utility companies will come out and mark their buried lines for you. Once you know where these lines are, you know where it's safe to dig.

For more information on when and why to call 811, there's a website to visit as well.

Get a personal, private toll-free phone number with MyPrivateLine

Friday, April 18th, 2008

It used to be that if you didn't have an "800" number, nobody from outside of your local area would call you. Everybody had to figure out where you were, and then decide whether it was worth the cost to give you a call. Easier to just look for the guys with the toll-free number.

With the calling plans available now, to say nothing of cell phones where there is really no difference between local- and long-distance calls, it may not be a necessary as it once was, but it's still nice to be able to put the "call me for free" option out there.

Setting up an "800" number has never been easier than with the MyPrivateLine service. Create an account, enter the phone number you want calls to ring-in on, and you'll get a dedicated toll-free number. Your contacts call that number, and it rings through to your home, office, or cell phone. They get the convenience of the free call, and you look more professional. In addition, your real number is not disclosed, so you don't have to worry about who gets hold of it. Online account management lets you change the phone that your number rings to.

Sign up for a free trial account at their website and get 60 minutes worth of incoming calls included. Additional time can be purchased from them once the introductory minutes are gone.

Get a phone call from Fabio

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Are you a connoisseur of the ripped-bodice romance novel? How about just looking for a good giggle? Either way, we've got just the thing for you.

Point your web browser to, answer a few simple questions—name, occupation, hobbies, and of course your phone number—and the Great Mane will give you a call back.

Sure, he's trying to sell you his favorite non-dairy spread, but hey, how often do concerned celebrities care about what you put on your toast?

A tip of the Phone Phun Phedora goes to Izzy for turning us on to this service. We hope we're not just being "buttered-up" here.

YouMail kicks-up your voicemail

Monday, April 14th, 2008

YouMail is a free custom voicemail system that lets you control how your messages get handled. You can assign customized greetings to each of your contacts, so that calls from your Mom get answered differently than calls from the Rugby team. They even have a "dump" feature, which allows you to kill calls from that annoying telemarketer (or your brother-in-law) before they even get to leave a message.

You can listen to your messages on the phone, of course, or you can grab them at YouMail's website. By seeing who left messages, you can pick-and-choose which calls you need to get to right away, and which ones can wait a bit.

Another handy feature here is that you can forward your messages via email to other people who need to hear them. That means you don't have to transcribe them while passing them along to your co-workers, for instance. You can even email messages to yourself, so that you're more connected than ever.

Answer all your postal questions 1-800-ASK-USPS

Friday, April 11th, 2008

While you can't check your post office box, just about anything else you can do at your local post office can be done via the Postal Service's automated phone system, by calling 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777).

Whether it's getting ZIP Code information to mail Grandma her birthday card, checking mailing rates for that package to Canada, or tracking Priority Mail or Express Mail shipments, you can do it all here. In addition, you can find out where the nearest Post Office is, enter a change of address order, or even buy stamps.

While the automated system is available 24/7, they also have live operators to help you find out what's what Monday through Saturday starting at 8:00 am Eastern Time for the more complicated stuff.

It's all the fun of a trip to the Post Office, but without having to wonder about that creepy guy standing over in the corner.

Rickroll by phone

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Need to get back at someone who has rickrolled you one too many times? No problem. Just have them call 248-434-5508, and good ol' Rick Astley will serenade your friend with his #1 hit tune.