December 20th, 2010
What is it that makes the holidays special? For some, it's the sound of rosy-cheeked carolers in the yard. For others, it's the little packages secretly smuggled into the house. And then there's the turkey. While traditionally associated with Thanksgiving, there are an awful lot of households who just can't get enough of that bird and go back for seconds when Christmas rolls around. Good thing the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line people are still on the job.
Started nearly thirty years ago, this holiday tradition has been helping cooks make it through the sometimes agonizing process of getting that holiday feast on the table. Their trained experts can give you a hand when you call 1-800-BUTTERBALL (1-800-288-8372). If you don't have stuffing all over your hands yet, you can also send them an email asking for a little help or moral support. And if you're really planning ahead their website has all kinds of information, as well as an FAQ, to help you make this holiday season the best yet.
And remember to save us a drumstick.
December 10th, 2010
Do you know a certain someone who would love to get a phone call from Santa Claus? Turns out you can help make that happen. The Google Voice folks have set up a website that lets you give The Big Guy all the info to arrange a personalized call to your son, daughter, co-worker, or whoever.
All you need to do is to point your web browser at SendACallFromSanta.com and start filling in the information. You'll let Santa know who you are and what your relationship is to the recipient (parent, friend), as well as a little about about them: where they live, what they're looking for under the tree, that sort of thing. When you've given Santa all he needs to know, press the magic button, and he'll be in touch with the recipient. You can choose for Santa to make a phone call or to send his greetings via email.
Send A Call From Santa is a free service. With the price that low, you should know that there is a brief commercial at the end of the message, so if you're sending a message to a little one, it probably makes sense for you to listen in and maybe distract them when the pitch comes.
November 30th, 2010
Back in the day, you used to get all bundled up and head on down to the big fancy department store in the center of town and line up for a chance to sit on Santa's lap to tell him what you wanted for Christmas. Things are busier now and much more spread out, so maybe you can't take care of this important holiday duty. Well, Santa understands, and that's why he has come up with a newer, high-tech way to get your message out.
Point your web browser to TelSanta.com to find out how leave him a voicemail message. Because he's a plugged-in guy, he'll take your message and forward it via email to some of his helpers (like maybe mom and dad) so that they're all on board as well. They can listen to your wish list, and maybe give that Right Jolly Old Elf a hand in making your Christmas wishes come true.
TelSanta is a free service brought to you by Santa's helpers at TollFreeForwarding.com
(A tip of the phone phun phedora to Bill Russo for this one!)
November 15th, 2010
Did you ever notice that whenever you buy some high-tech do-dad, it becomes obsolete the moment you walk out the door? Shiny new computer? Now it's yesterday's news. Smartest new smart phone? Seems pretty dumb by the next day. So we go ahead and use the thing–after all, you did have to pay a pretty penny for it–but you know that within some relatively short period of time, maybe a year or two, you'll have to replace it.
Now we all know that there's all kinds of nasty, environment-unfriendly stuff inside these cool electronic goodies, so you don't want to just drop it in the trash along with the kitty litter. But it can be a pain to try to find an appropriate place to recycle it.
Gazelle is a service that will pay you to recycle your old electronics. How much you get back will depend on the make and model of your electronic goodies, with fancier items with all their accessories likely to score you a bigger payday. But in addition to that, they'll supply you with all the shipping materials you need, so it's not going to cost you anything. They'll make you an offer, which you can accept or reject. And once they've cut you a check, depending on your item, they'll turn around and re-sell it through their retail or wholesale channels, or if your device is really old or has no resale value, they'll responsibly recycle it.
Now you've done your bit for the environment and maybe put a few bucks in your pocket, that you can put toward your next purchase.
October 31st, 2010
If you're an information junkie, you can get your fix with your mobile phone and 4INFO. This free service uses SMS text messages to bring you the latest and greatest from whatever you're interested in. Since it uses the humble text message format, you don't need a "smart phone" to use it (does that mean you can use a "dumb phone?"). You can check airline flight status information, posts on Craigslist, weather information, or even program listings from TV Guide.
All you need to do is to register with 4INFO at their website–they do need your phone number, after all–and go from there. Sign up for alerts to be sent to you, or with some services like the TV listings, you can send a text message from your phone and get an answer in real time telling you when and where you can catch the next episode of "Dancing With Whoever We're Dancing With".
4INFO is a free service. As with all text messaging services, you are responsible for your provider's fees.
October 15th, 2010
Do you have so much time on your hands that you can afford to spend minutes (or hours or days) on hold waiting for "the next available representative"? (After all, you know your call is important to them.) If so, we salute you, but for the rest of us, it would be nice if we could designate a "pinch hitter" to sit there waiting for them to pick up.
Lucyphone is a service that is designed with this in mind. To get them to line up for you, just visit their site and register for a free account. Now when you need to make that dreaded call, just pick the number you're calling off their list and make your call. Once you're connected, you can just hang up. when your call finally gets answered, Lucyphone calls you back and you're immediately connected with the folks you're calling. Meanwhile, you haven't been sitting there with a phone jammed against your ear, and just maybe you've accomplished something during what otherwise could be your day's biggest waste of time.
Lucyphone is a free service. Getting your life back is pretty sweet, too.
September 30th, 2010
If you, or somebody you care about, are "in a family way", then you know there are dozens (thousands?) of details to be concerned about. Nutrition, immunizations, prenatal care, car seats–the list goes on and on. One way to try to stay on top of it all is to subscribe to SMS text messages from Text4Baby.org. They'll send you three messages a week until your baby is a year old. You can also subscribe by texting BABY (or BEBE for Spanish) to 511411.
This service is a joint effort between Uncle Sam and CTIA (a wireless provider trade group). All of the text messages are supposed to be sent free of charge (check with your carrier if in doubt). While this service is no substitute for visits to doctors and consulting with other providers, it is an easy way to get information out where it can do the most good, and since most folks have a cell phone, this seems like a perfect way to spread the word.
Be sure to take care of yourself and your baby, and remember that one of the best things you can do is to quit smoking. End of sermon.
September 15th, 2010
With all the technological advances out there, you'd think there would be a way to deal with complicated, multi-level telephone menu systems. You know the kind: call the bank or the doctor or whoever and you get a list of numbers to punch (or words to utter) to navigate through the labyrinth that is their system. If you hang in there long enough, maybe you'll eventually get a human being on the other end of the line. Or maybe you won't.
Fonolo may be just what you're looking for. They've got an extensive list of "deep dialing" numbers that can help you bypass the other stuff and get directly to the department you're looking for. No more "press 1 for this" or "press 9 for that". Search for your company, and likely as not, they'll return a list of numbers that bypass the menus and get you where you want to go. Click on the choice you're looking for—maybe reservations for an airline, maybe checking accounts for a bank—and these guys will phone you back and phone the company. Now you're on the air, talking to somebody who can take care of you, and you didn't have to spend ten minutes digging through somebody's idea of a menu system. Very nice.
All you need to do to take advantage of Fonolo is to sign up for a free account. Thanks to Bill for bringing this one to our attention.
August 31st, 2010
No doubt you've seen the Old Spice guy on TV or YouTube, selling whatever it is that he's selling. Well, it turns out he's got a second job, doing voiceovers as well. Kind of.
If you'd like to have him record the outgoing message for your voicemail or answering machine, just point your web browser at the Old Spice voicemail generator. Choose your gender, enter your phone number, and click on a couple of message choices, and before you can whistle the Old Spice jingle (doo doo doot), you can download an MP3 of his testosterone-laden voice inviting your callers to leave you a message. And if you'd like, you can include the jingle in your message as well.
The Old Spice voicemail generator is a free service. Smelling like your dad's aftershave is optional.
August 15th, 2010
When is a phone call art? When the call is to Tuck and Roll Radio. Call these guys at 1-877-620-0940 (toll-free from anywhere in North America) and leave a message (up to three minutes in length). That's where the magic begins.
They take your messages, make some creative edits, add some sounds, music, or what have you, and otherwise creatively mash it all up to create some interesting sounding works of art. They're all turned into podcasts, so that folks can listen to what has gone on. Needless to say, the more interesting the message you leave–whether it's a story, an apology, or your deepest secret–the more interesting the resulting podcast will be. They're eager to get more messages, so why don't you give 'em a call. Who knows; you could be part of the next big thing.