Web & communication software

Keep Your Number Private, Create Docs Easily, and Get Free Storage

I'm constantly bopping around the Web, looking for free or inexpensive services that do useful things. Take Just One Club Card, for example, which I profiled a few weeks back. That site lets you create one big, foldable, card that lists the info from all of your barcoded membership and rewards cards. This week I've got a few more useful Web sites.

Turn Your Phone Number Into a Safe, Disposable Web Link

Have you ever wanted to give someone your phone number without actually giving them your number? For example, suppose you're listing an item on eBay or Craigslist. You want prospective buyers to be able to reach you, but you don't want your phone number posted online for all the world to see.

Enter Babble.ly, an ingenious service that turns your phone number into a safe, disposable Web link.

Here's how it works: After entering your phone number on the Babble.ly site (which promises total privacy), you get a unique Web address you can share as needed. When a prospective caller clicks the link, he/she is then prompted to enter his/her own number. From there, Babble.ly calls you both, then connects the two calls. Your number is never revealed to the other party. Clever, huh?

When you're done, you can keep the link for future use or just delete it.

Babble.ly is currently in beta. It's available in the U.S. and Canada only; calls are limited to 10 minutes. Once it's out of beta, you may be able to get longer calls by signing up for a premium version.

Create Newsletters and Flyers in a Flash With LetterPop

If you've ever tried to use Microsoft Word to create a newsletter, or any other document combining text and graphics, you know what a pain it can be--and how disappointing the results often are.

Web service LetterPop makes it a snap to design short newsletters, invitations, business documents, photo collages, and the like. All you do is choose one of nearly 300 nice-looking templates (in categories like Announcement, Family, and School), drag it to the workspace area, then start filling in the details: title, text, photos,and so on . When you're done, you can save, print, e-mail, or share a link to your newsletter. (LetterPop doesn't currently offer Facebook integration, which would be nice.)

The only thing about LetterPop that's not immediately obvious is how to add photos to your image gallery. You can't do that while creating your newsletter; rather, you have to jump into your account settings and upload them there.

A free LetterPop account lets you publish up to 10 newsletters per year, and share them with up to 25 e-mail contacts. Paid accounts start at $25/year and give you a lot more flexibility.

It's not perfect, but LetterPop is a worthwhile solution when you're looking to churn out an attractive-looking newsletter (or similar document) in a hurry.

Get a Free Extra Gigabyte of Dropbox Storage

Awesome file-sharing/backup service Dropbox offers 2GB of storage space free of charge. Want to make it 3GB? Then I hope you like scavenger hunts of the online variety.

It's called Dropquest, and the reward for completing it is an extra 1GB of Dropbox storage. (Ignore the stuff about the "epic extra prizes," as those have almost certainly been claimed already.)

Make no mistake: This 30-step (!) contest is not easy. In fact, I'd guess that most users will get stuck around Step 4. And it doesn't help matters that Dropbox provides no instructions to speak of. You'll have to rely solely on your wits. Or, if you're strapped for time, this collection of cheats. (Be sure to scroll to the bottom for a list of other ways to score extra Dropbox storage.)

Don't wait too long: Dropquest ends January 29.

If you've got a hassle that needs solving, send it my way. I can't promise a response, but I'll definitely read every e-mail I get--and do my best to address at least some of them in the PCWorld Hassle-Free PC blog . My 411: hasslefree@pcworld.com . You can also sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week .

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