15 Tech Secrets for the Serious Road Warrior

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Use Your Cell Phone as an Internet Hotspot

PdaNet turns any iPhone, Windows Mobile Phone, or Palm OS phone into a wireless router.
The problem: You've ponied up for a lightning-fast data plan on your cell phone, but your mobile browser sometimes fails to provide the browsing experience you need. The solution: Tether your cell phone's data plan to your laptop so you'll have an Internet connection anywhere your cell phone has a signal. PdaNet turns any iPhone, Windows Mobile Phone, or Palm OS phone into a wireless router; and if you have a Nokia phone, JoikuSpot will do the job. Keep in mind that tethering your data connection will significantly decrease your phone's battery life, but it's a godsend when you need it.

Beef Up Your Voicemail

One of the iPhone's most innovative features was visual voicemail, which lets users see who left voicemail and listen to individual voicemail messages on demand. Web service YouMail upgrades your cell phone's voicemail for free, adding visual voicemail, voicemail filtering, and caller-specific greetings to any cell. It even sends voicemail straight to your e-mail inbox, so archiving a voicemail message permanently or sharing a message is easy.

Send Group SMS Messages

Whether you're organizing a night out with friends or you need to mass-message your company softball team about a change of venue, group messaging is an excellent method to use. Phone trees and e-mail lists work, but cell phones make text messaging the quickest, most effective way to get the word out. Unfortunately, filling out an enormous To: field with every contact on your list is tedious and time-consuming. Ad-supported service Tatango remedies this problem by letting you communicate with every member of a predefined group of people by sending just one text message. The process is simple: Sign up, build out your contact list, and enjoy convenient mass SMS messaging.

Name That Tune

One way to get a song out of your head is to listen to it again from start to finish (this doesn't seem to work with "da da da da da I'm lovin' it," however); but setting up a replay can be difficult when you don't actually know the song's name. Sure, you can fire up Google, enter the few lyrics you know, and hope for a positive ID, but phone service 411-SONG takes a more scientific approach to music matching. The next time a song you don't know is playing, just dial 1-866-411-SONG and hold your phone up to the music for 15 seconds. 411-SONG will identify the song and send you a text message containing the song information and a link for buying it. The service costs 99 cents for each accurately identified song, so if you plan on using it a lot, the unlimited plan ($3.99 per month) might make more sense for you.

Check Your Bank Account Balance With a Text Message

We've all been there: You're out on the town with friends or clients or associates, and you don't want the fun to stop, but you aren't entirely sure whether you have enough money in your checking account to cover another round. Rather than taking your chances on an overdraft or prematurely calling it a night, fire off a text message to Quicken Beam, a new service from personal finance software-maker Quicken. After you sign up, Quicken regularly checks your account balance so that when you text BAL to 636363, you'll instantly receive a response identifying your current balance.

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