Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Phone services

Please allow me to point out two services which you may find useful if you have a cell phone:


Jott provides free transcription and messaging services. You sign up with them and provide to them your phone number(s) and (optionally) a copy of your address book (which is kept private). Then, when you dial their toll-free number from one of your phones, it asks, "who do you want to jott?". You say the name of the person you want to send a message to, or "myself". It then repeats the name of the person whose name it thinks you said, and beeps. You can leave up to a 30 second message. This message is transcribed into text and emailed to the appropriate person. This means if you have a cell phone, you can make notes at any time without having to have paper and pen handy.

Grand Central

Grand Central's service is useful if you have more than one number at which you can be reached. You sign up with their service, and provide to them your phone numbers, and (optionally) a copy of your address book (which is kept private). They give you a new phone number, which you give out to your friends, family, and coworkers as your phone number. The services it then offers are many:
  • When someone calls, it can ring all your phones at once, and you can take the call at whichever one is convenient to you.
  • If you're on one phone with a call you received through the service, you can press * and all your other phones ring, allowing you to pick up the call on a different phone and hang up the first. For example, if you get a call on your cell phone, then arrive home, you can transfer the call to your home phone so you aren't using your cell plan minutes.
  • The service can screen your calls for you. If the number of the caller isn't in your address book, it can ask them to record their name, and then when you answer it tells you who is calling and asks you if you'd like to take the call or send it to voice mail. (It does this anyway, but if they're in your address book they don't have to record their name.)
  • You can listen in on calls you send to voice mail like you used to be able to listen in on an answering machine, and pick up the call if you want to.
  • You can categorize your address book listings as friends, family, work, and other. Then, you can direct the system to handle such calls differently. For example, I have the system set to not send "other" calls to my cell phone, so I don't spend my cell minutes on talking to people I don't know.
  • You can give specific individuals custom ring tones or custom voice mail greetings.

Both of these services are free.

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