15 Tech Secrets for the Serious Road Warrior
Save the Cost of a 411 Call
When you're out and about with a cell phone as your only electronic companion, and you need local information, 411 is still one of the quickest and easiest ways to obtain it. The catch: Traditional 411 services charge you for every look-up. But now there's an alternative: GOOG-411, a free 411 service from search giant Google. Just dial 1-800-GOOG-411, follow the automated voice prompts, and let GOOG-411's voice recognition program take care of you for free.
Quick hint: Try saying "Text message" or "Map it" at the end of your call to get additional details sent directly to your phone.
Bring the Subway Map With You
When you travel by subway, knowing your route--and your route options--is a must. Web site iSubwayMaps offers free maps of 22 different cities across the globe, so you can plan your route no matter where you are. The maps are optimized for use on iPods and iPhones, but each map is just a photo, so it should work on any mobile device capable of displaying images.
Shop Amazon via SMS
You're a member of Amazon Prime, you have an extensive Amazon wish list, and your delivery person knows you by your first, last, and middle name. Admit it: You're an Amazon junkie. So how do you get by while you're away from an Internet connection? Check out Amazon TextBuyIt. This free service from Amazon lets you find and buy items on Amazon via text message. To use it, just text a keyword to 'AMAZON' (262966). Amazon TextBuyIt will instantly reply with a list of results, and you can text the company right back to identify the one you want to buy. After you do so, you'll receive a phone call from Amazon to confirm the details of your service. It's quick, it's easy, and it should satisfy your need to buy online until you can reconnect to the Web.
Stay Up-to-Date With Your Favorite Blog via SMS
Whether you're a news junkie or you're hung up on your crush's personal blog, RSS feeds are an obsessive site-refresher's best friend. Unfortunately, your newsreader won't do you much good when you're away from your computer. Free tool Pingie steps into the breach to create SMS alerts from any RSS feed--so whether you're sitting at your computer or not, you'll receive an SMS alert the second your favorite site updates.
Go Straight to Voicemail With SlyDial
Maybe you have just enough time between meetings to fire off a quick text message but not enough time to type. Or maybe you just want to avoid talking to the person on the other end of the line. Either way, wouldn't it be nice to be able to skip straight to voicemail? Web site SlyDial lets you do just that, forgoing the formalities of conversation by sending you straight to your contact's voicemail. The person you're calling won't know that you called until the voicemail pops up in the inbox, and you'll have saved yourself the effort of a full-fledged conversation when all you wanted to do was relay a quick message.
(For more sly tech tricks like this one, check out my article, "12 Sly Web Tricks That Put You in Control.")
Instantly Find Yourself on a Google Map
Peripatetic types are used to plopping down in the nearest coffee shop to enjoy a little free Wi-Fi and a well-heated latte. But when you need a quick set of directions or want to find a good place to eat in the neighborhood, you have to go through the same tap dance over and over: Open Google Maps, manually enter your current address (assuming that you even know the coffee shop's address), and finally search for what you need. Instead of going through that routine, try installing the Geode Firefox extension, the Greasemonkey extension, and the Google Maps and Geode Greasemonkey script. Armed with them, the next time you visit Google Maps you'll see a new Current Position link next to the search box that will instantly locate you on a map. And when Firefox 3.1 is released, you won't need the Geode extension at all.