Archive for July, 2008

Name that song

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

We've all been there. You hear a song, your toes start tapping, and pretty quick you know you've gotta' own that song. Only problem is, you have no idea what it is or who's performing it. What are you gonna' do?

You could try 411-SONG. To ID a song you're hearing, you just dial 1-866-411-SONG (1-800-411-7664), hold your phone up to the speaker, and in about fifteen seconds, they'll identify the song and text you back with the title, performer, and a link to buy the song. It couldn't be easier.

The first call is free; after that, it costs $0.99 per call, or you can get unlimited song IDs for $3.99 a month.

Picowiki: a personal wiki with mobile users in mind

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Whenever you go out, is your briefcase bulging with notes? Or you jam a fistful of PostIts into your pocket and hope for the best? It'd be nice if you could bring all your stuff with you without having to bring the whole office along, or risk a serious paper cut.

Picowiki is a hosted wiki designed specifically to work well with your iPhone, Blackberry, or PDA. Sure, you can cram it full of stuff back in the office, but it features an easy-to-use interface and its own "markdown" language (get it? markdown, not markup) for formatting text. Instead of having to use regular HTML markup to create a heading, for example, you don't have to wrap your text in "<H1>" and "</H1>" tags—you just run a row of equal signs (=====) under it, and as if by magic, it's rendered as an HTML heading. There's also a GUI toolbar that lets you impose markup directly, just in case you don't remember that "**" is the command to bold text.

You can set your wiki as public or private, so you can decide whether you want to share your content for collaborative work, or keep your musings to yourself.

Picowiki is a free service.

Find what you're looking for with LiveSearch411

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

The wizards at Microsoft have come up with an information service that goes beyond a regular "411" call. LiveSearch411 can help you find stores, restaurants, and other businesses. In addition, they've got extras—stuff like weather forecasts, movie showtimes, that sort of thing.

To access this service, just dial 1-800-CALL-411 (1-800-225-5411) and follow the prompts. You can use your regular phone or your cell phone here, because most of the responses are spoken back to you, so you don't need SMS to benefit.

When we called, we had some serious problems with the voice recognition system, and had to repeat several of our requests multiple times, and even then didn't always get the results we were looking for. Needless to say, your mileage may vary.

You can get more information about this free service by visiting the LiveSearch411 website.

Mobilize your bookmarks with

Monday, July 21st, 2008

You're all plugged in. You've got the latest and greatest, and you spend a lot of time looking for more. You're addicted to and have got a list of tags longer than both of your arms. is a mashup that combines and ma.gnolia with Google Mobile. This allows you to access your bookmarks from your phone, but in a format that makes sense on the relatively limited display of your mobile phone. In addition, you can flag your most important bookmarks with "mtag", which helps you to display those tags most easily in, so you don't have to wade through zillions of bookmarks on your phone to get the ones you really want. is a free service. You do need to have a or ma.gnolia account, as well as a web-enabled phone, to use it.

Print from your mobile phone with CloudPrint

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

With all the capabilities that are added to the latest cell phones, there's almost nothing you can't do with them. Send email, browse the web—heck, you can even make phone calls (who knew?). But one thing that you probably can't do is print. Take all those pretty pictures and send them around, but when it comes to putting one onto a sheet of paper, you may be out of luck.

HP has a free service they call CloudPrint. Take a photo and send it to Cloud Print, and you're golden. Now when you get back to your computer, all you have to do is to enter your phone number and the "document code" number, which you were given when you uploaded your image, and you can print it out. Or you can add their Remote Print Monitor to your Windows machine, and it will watch for your uploads, and print them out automatically.

CloudPrint is a free service.

Get the word out with TextMarks

Monday, July 14th, 2008

Sometimes you need to get the word out, but don't want to have to spend all day doing so. Sure, you can set up mailing lists and hit everybody at once, but how about going the next step, and having your contacts receive automatic updates?

TextMarks lets you create and manage text alert lists. Pick a unique keyword, and tell TextMarks what you want it to tell people about. Then when people text your keyword to 41411—maybe "Suzy50BDay"—they will get a message back about when and where the big party is. With the option to have people subscribe to your keyword, you can push updates out to them—whenever you tweak the content for their keyword, they'll get the latest sent to them.

If you really want to get into it, they've got an API that will let you do more than just send messages—you can ping a server or grab a bus schedule—but that requires some programming on your part.

eBay on your phone

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

Are you hopelessly addicted to eBay? Is it the thrill of the hunt? The heart-pounding excitement of the last few seconds of an auction? Either way, you can now get even more wrapped-up in it with eBay Mobile.

eBay Mobile is optimized for small screens. You get a basic display of auction items, and can bid on them through your phone. If you're the successful bidder, you can even pay with PayPal via your phone.

Item pages do carry a warning that what you are looking at is less than the full item listing, so it might be a good idea to check things out on your computer before you start bidding on any merchandise.

For more about eBay Mobile, you can drop by their homepage.

Dial DIR-ECT-IONS for directions

Monday, July 7th, 2008

Going somewhere? Forgot to look up directions before you left home or the office? Too much of a "guy" to stop and ask directions? Maybe it's time to dial DIR-ECT-IONS.

To receive directions from where you are to where you want to be, just dial DIR-ECT-IONS (347-328-4667) from your mobile phone. Follow the voice prompts and speak your destination and starting point, and this free service will send back a text message with the directions necessary to complete your trip.

Dial Directions also knows about national and regional chain stores. Need to find the closest 7-Eleven? They can probably give you a hand.

If you're planning an event, you can even create an event entry, so that your guests can call and get directions on how to get to your wedding, party, or yard sale.

For more information, you can visit the Dial Directions website. It's a free service, but as they say, "standard text messaging rates apply."

Podcast via your phone

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

You've got something to say. With the current state of the Internet, you can have your say, and get it out there in front of people. Whether it's a podcast, or just adding a greeting to your website or blog, the use of sound helps put the "multi" in "multimedia". It can also put the "pain" in "pain in the neck". Podcasts are complicated things, requiring lots of fancy equipment, expensive microphones, and a lot of headaches to put it all together. It'd be nice if there were a more pain-free way to get your message out there.

Gabcast is an interesting online service that uses your telephone to record podcasts or other audio content, and make it available around the Web. You just phone a toll-free number (in the US) and start recording. Users who have subscribed to your channel will hear what you have to say. Include your new words of wisdom in an RSS feed; make it available to iTunes users; even embed it in your blog.

Gabcast is a free service, although there are additional features that they'd love you to upgrade to for an additional charge.