A few weeks ago, the HD Discovery Channel started running episodes of a show called “It’s All Geek to Me.” It’s a show hosted by New York Times technology columnist David Pogue, and offers reviews and tips on new technologies. (Although two months after filming, the episodes are usually out of date.)
The Discovery Channel posts what they call “show notes” that run through the suggestions found in the episodes. I found the notes relating to the show on cell phones pretty helpful. For instance:
Secret “get to the beep” keystrokes:
As noted in the show, you don’t have to listen to the endless outgoing greeting when you just want to leave someone a voicemail message. You can cut directly to the beep by pressing a certain key:
Verizon: press *
Sprint: press 1
T-Mobile or Cingular/AT&T: press #
At the end, I noted sadly that: “Of course, you have to know which carrier the person you’re calling uses, so you know which keystroke to use!”
This remains the fatal flaw of my genius idea (publicizing the “cut to the beep” keystrokes).
But here’s the genius solution: publicize it yourself! When you record your voicemail greeting, say, “Push star at any time to skip Verizon’s gibberish,” or whatever. That way, your callers hear your voice but not the recorded lady’s, and they don’t have to remember what the keystroke is.
I hereby charge the Pogue Army with the task of changing their outgoing cell phone messages, this very day. Let’s teach those cell carriers that they’re not going to run up our bill so easily!
And if you’re stuck and need free directory assistance:
Call 800-FREE-411. You have to listen to a 20-second ad, but it’s better than paying $2 to your carrier for directory assistance!
Or send a text message to GOOGL (46645) that says “Robert Gonzales 10024” (or whatever person or business you’re looking for). Google will send back the full name, address, and phone number, within just a few seconds.
BONUS TIP: After the show aired, a reader wrote to inform me that you can now have the best of both worlds. You can get FREE directory assistance, WITHOUT having to send a text message! Unfortunately, it’s only a Yellow Pages at the moment (business numbers only — not residential).
The hero again is Google. Just call 800-GOOG-411.
There’s even a free service for the times where you know you’re going to be in a boring meeting and want to have someone call you:
You can program http://www.popularitydialer.com to call your cell phone at a specified time, to get you out of a boring meeting or a bad date. It’s free — and it’s awesome!
You can go to the Discovery Channel website to see the tips David Pogue offers on laptop computers, digital cameras, video cameras, and other electronics products.