Archive for January, 2011

Free 411 Services

Monday, January 31st, 2011

All good things must come to an end. If you've become dependent on Google's GOOG-411, you know that it's gone the way of the dodo. What you thought was a nifty free service, was in fact an easy way for Google to grab samples of speech for its various voice recognition projects. Now that they've got all their samples, you're on your own trying to figure out who's where, which means you might be tempted to pay your carrier a boatload of cash for calling their 411 service. As it turns out, there are other places to look for this same information for everybody's favorite price: free.

Microsoft has their own voice recognition information system. You can reach their BING-411 service at 1-800-BING-411 (1-800-246-4411) or use CALL-411 (1-800-225-5411). Either way, you speak, they respond, and hopefully you get where you need to go.

Another option is the FREE-411 service. All you need to do is call 1-800-373-3411, listen to a brief ad, and you're on your way. If you like, they can text you with directions to where you're headed.

Make free VoIP calls locally and internationally

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

Way back when, you needed a telephone to make phone calls. With the advent of Internet-based VoIP calling, all you need is to be able to go online and the world is at your beck and call. While there are several different ways to make calls via the Internet, they each seem to come with their own set of limitations. Whether it's a commercial service where you pay a monthly service fee like Vonage, or a system like Skype where you can call computer-to-computer for free but have to pay when talking to somebody on a telephone, there's always something.

EvaPhone lets you make free computer-to-phone calls domestically and internationally. All you need is a web browser, a relatively recent version of the Flash plugin, and a microphone and headphones. You don't even have to create an account or log in. Your phone call is limited in length, depending on the destination you're calling. These time limits vary by country and location, but I suppose at the price–did we mention it's free?–you can't complain too loudly.

Needless to say, these folks would love to have you upgrade to their paid service, which removes time- and other restrictions, but there's no reason why you can't continue to enjoy their free offering.