Archive for the 'SMS fun' Category

Google Mobile

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

How did we all get along before "the Google?" As the repository of all knowledge—or at least the index to all the other repositories—it stands head-and-shoulders above the rest. As long as you're sitting at a computer, you have access to all the collected wisdom of the universe, give or take. If you're not parked in front of your computer, you're out of luck. Or at least you used to be.

Google Mobile is your portal into the Oracle of Google through your phone. Send your query via SMS text message to short code 466453 ("GOOGLE") and your answer will be texted right back to you. Find the nearest Chinese restaurant, see what time the movie you want to see if showing at the local multiplex, or check out the local weather forecast. At any time you can text "help" and get back a quick list of what to do.

Google Mobile is a free service, but as they say "regular text messaging rates apply".

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.

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."

Local AMBER Alerts on your phone

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

The AMBER Alert system is set up to quickly disseminate information regarding child abductions in the US and Canada. Once the authorities have confirmed an abduction, there is a three-hour window to get the information out there; once that interval has passed, there is a roll-off in the effectiveness of efforts to make a recovery.

AMBER Alerts are broadcast via TV, radio, and even on electronic road signs in some areas. You can also sign up to receive them via SMS text message on your mobile phone. Go to and enter your cell phone number. You'll be asked about the area for which you want to receive alerts—you can enter up to five ZIP codes—and that's it. There are somewhere around 200 to 250 AMBER Alerts generated each year, so if one goes out that affects your area, you'll be notified. This service is available on most carriers, and there is not supposed to be any charge for receiving messages of this type, regardless of your messaging plan.

Coupons on your cell

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

Do you like to save money? No, of course not. But seriously, everybody likes to save, although not everybody has the time, interest, or discipline to read all the circulars in the newspaper, clip all the coupons, and the remember to take them with you.

Cellfire is a free service that lets you store electronic coupons on your phone. In a participating store, you just bring up the appropriate coupon and show it to the clerk to realize the savings. Or when shopping by phone, you can just read the information to the customer service rep on the other end of the line. Either way, you save the money without having to clip coupons.

Participating merchants include such varied outfits as Hollywood Video, McDonald's, Supercuts, and 1-800-Flowers. There are even some locations where grocery stores are included.

You can sign up at their website, or by texting "COUPON" to 22888. Cellfire is a free service, but your carrier's standard text message rates may apply.

Use your phone to send money with PayPal Mobile

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

I didn't know you could use your phone to make PayPal payments, but it's true. PayPal Mobile lets you access your PayPal account and do many of the things you could do online. Once you activate your phone, it's easy to check the balance in your account. You can send money by mobile web, if you phone is so equipped, or you can make a payment by text message. They'll even phone you back to confirm that you really want to make that payment. You can also request money by text message. Now when it's time to split the bill, you can pay-up in real time, instead of the ever-popular "I'll gladly pay you back on Tuesday for a hamburger today".

PayPal Mobile works with just about all cell phone carriers and most phones. There's no charge to check balances, send payments by phone, or to receive money into a personal account. Business account holders will be assessed normal charges for receiving payment. Normal charges from your carrier for air time used, text messages, etc., may apply.

Amazon TextBuyIt Free SMS Shopping Service

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Amazon TextBuyIt is a service that lets you find, compare, and buy products using SMS text message from your phone. Just dial the shortcode AMAZON (262966) on your cell and include in your message appropriate keywords for your search, or get more specific by sending the UPC or ISBN for the items you're interested in. They will send you back information about matches, two at a time. You can choose to buy one of your hits, or ask for more information on an item, or even to view more results.

Once you've decided on what you want, you send them a message back to place the order. They will phone you back to confirm your order, and verify payment and shipping information. Then it's all over but the waiting for the delivery guy.

Amazon TextBuyIt is a free service; your carrier's charges for text messages will apply.

Healthy Living Reminders

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Everybody's got goals. For many of us, those goals include trying to live healthier. Maybe you'd like to drop a few pounds, or get to the gym more regularly. If you'd like a little encouragement, and maybe a few reminders, you might want to take a look at Wellphone.

A free service, Wellphone lets you set goals for yourself, track your progress, and even have reminders sent to you via email or text message. Looking for healthy living tips? Sign up for info on healthy eating, exercise, and more. Looking for a new health club, or away on business and need to find the closest gym? Their service can help with suggestions for you.

Once you've signed-up on their website, interacting with Wellphone is a simple as sending a text message to 878787, including the word "goal" to log your progress, "local" to check out local resources, and so forth.

Get Answers for Free via Text Message

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

A certain electronics store used to boast "you've got questions, we've got answers." I suppose that's probably true, as long as what you were asking could be answered by something sitting on their shelves. But what about other questions? Sure, you could go to Google for answers, but it's not always easy to frame your search in such a way that you don't get a kazilion answers, none of which really answer your question.

Enter ChaCha. This is a slick service that will answer your specific questions. Not just another search engine, ChaCha relies on Guides—real human beings who will answer your questions. Whether it's the price of tea in China, or where to get the best pizza in Poughkeepsie, they've got thousands of Guides spread all over the country, so they really will have a good answer to your local questions, as well as more general ones.

ChaCha is a free service, and it's available via SMS text message, or you can phone your question in. To ask a question, text your question to 242242 (CHACHA), or phone them at 1-800-2CHACHA (1-800-224-2242). They'll text you back an answer as quickly as they can. Although this is a free service, your carrier's normal text messaging rates will apply.

So I wonder where you do you get that pizza?

Google Send To Phone sends text messages from your browser

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Did you ever want to text yourself? You're headed out the door to some place you've never been before, so you dutifully looked-up the address and driving directions on Google Maps. It would be handy to send yourself a text message with that info in it, so that you don't have to drag along that printout of the directions.

Google Send To Phone is a Firefox extension that allows you to send SMS messages (text messages) to your mobile phone from within your web browser. Copy and paste whatever content you want from your page into the "text to send" field. If you're going long, the tool will automatically split your text into multiple messages.

Not only is this useful for texting yourself, but if you need to dash off a quick note to somebody else, you can do so as well. All you need is the phone number and carrier for your recipient.

Google Send To Phone is compatible with any system running Firefox version 1 or later. Sending messages through this extension is free, but charges may apply to receiving them; check with your carrier for details. Most major carriers are included in the list for sending.