My life is a super high tech mashup of whatever the latest technologies of the time are. I tend to adopt everything as it rolls out the chute and I am never afraid to throw technologies aside that don't fit into my way of life. That's not to say that they are bad or inferior technologies; it's to say that they were missing something that prevented them from fitting my needs.
This is much the case with using a web browser over the phone. My current phone is the Verizon enV (which I will be discussing in a later article), and although it runs on a fast network (or so the claims go), getting quick and dirty information on the web is just a complete fiasco. There are layers of menus and delays around every corner. To be fair, I have found this to be the case with all the cell phones I have had, even with the new cell phones T-Mobile recently released. So many times I have been out to dinner with friends when we decide to see a movie. By the time we can get the movie times on our phones, a good half an hour has gone by. There has to be a better way.
Fortunately, I stumbled onto something that Google has been offering for a while: Google mobile, using SMS. Just in case you are not an acronym maven, SMS is a fancy word for text messaging. This is the equivalent of sending commands to a computer via the command line. Sure, the information doesn't come back to you in a highly formatted and pretty listing, but you do get the information you want quickly and easily. You will be standing in line for movie tickets while everyone else is pecking information into their phones and cussing.
The first thing you want to do is go to the Google SMS home page and put your phone number in. This allows Google to send you SMS messages while keeping you from signing your friends up without their knowledge.
Now, the first thing I would do is make sure to set up your current zip code so you don't have to send it with every message. For instance, I am in Ashland, Ohio, so I send the following text message to 466453 (GOOGLE):
“set location 44805”
You should send your own current zip code, unless you are trying to see a movie with me.
Now, I can do a quick search for movies by sending:
And I will get a rough listing of what movies are currently showing.
The other night, some friends and I were looking to see 30 Days of Night on opening night. I did a search for:
“movies 30 days of night”
And got a quick listing of everywhere the film was showing in my area. Keep in mind that I did this on my cell phone in less than 15 seconds.
If you go to the Google SMS home page you can find a whole bunch of neat things to try, but some of my favorites are:
Sends an updated weather report to your phone. Sure, in most of the country this is no big deal. In Ohio, it's a big deal.
Sends you the Google stock quote. You can send any ticker symbol for a quick quote.
Say you hear a strange word and you need to look it up QUICK before you look bad:
Hey, it's almost Halloween!
If you need a quick map:
You will be sent a map link. Keep in mind that you will need to have a browser on your phone to view that link.
Say I want to check on my flight:
Here, you enter your flight number (in place of “flight_number”) and get a quick update on your status.
And one more fun one:
“translate tasty in spanish”
So grab your phone and try it out. It's a fun diversion, it's useful, and it can be a fun waste of time when your plane is delayed at the airport.Let me know if you come up with any interesting hacks on this, and I will publish them. Until then, see you at the movies (in the best seats, because we got there first.)
Send any questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.