Get SMS Alerts With Google Calendar

gcal_400_300One of the historical criticisms of online app packages, like Google Calendar, is that they lacked the sophistication and integration of desktop applications like Microsoft Outlook. Those criticisms have become quieter of late as Google adds more functionality and integration to its web apps and more companies find the expense of Outlook and the overhead of Exchange to be unnecessary in the age of smartphones.

Google wisely went the direction of unifying their services on both a web platform and via apps that provide the same functionality across a variety of devices including smartphones and tablets. As functionality has built up over the years there are sometimes features that slip by even seasoned professionals.

Integration of Calendar with SMS

I’m continually surprised how many people don’t know they can set up their Google Calendar to send them SMS reminders. Even though that feature has been around for some time it’s not well advertised.

Just go to Google Calendars

Settings

Click on Mobile Setup up in the top menu

Type in your mobile number and click Send Verification Code

Type in the verification code you get via text and you’re off to the races.

When you edit an event you’ll discover a new SMS option for getting reminders. Maybe this feature slips by notice is that most people are using email reminders and apps for their calendars.

Either way it’s a handy feature and I expect even greater integration from Google as the development rolls on.

Turn Your Cell Phone Into a Tool of Awesome

Post by David Pierce. Find me on Twitter.

This post was originally my column for this week in my school newspaper, The Cavalier Daily. But it’s too appropriate for The 2.0 Life to not put up here.

The one thing I have with me at all times isn’t a notebook, or my laptop, or underwear – it’s my cell phone. It lives in my pocket at all times, and if I’m without it for more than about 10 minutes, I begin to slowly lose my mind.

My phone’s not an iPhone, or even a particularly cool smartphone; it’s just a regular old phone. I have, though, learned a few cool tips and tricks for how to get the most out of my phone, and I’m going to share a bunch of them with you. If you’ve got a phone that makes calls and sends text messages, these tips are for you. (If your phone can’t do those things, I’m not saying you definitely got ripped off, but if the shoe fits…)

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Are My Sites Up Asks That Question For You

Post by David Pierce. Find me on Twitter.

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As a website owner, I know that one of the constant nightmares is the random downtime. Someone visits your site, gets some random error no one understands, and can’t visit your site to enjoy all its wonderful goodness. Sad stuff, right?

Thankfully, there’s a better solution than constantly refreshing the page to make sure it’s still up; it’s called Are My Sites Up, and is a simple application I never knew I needed, but now desperately do.

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13 Ways Kwiry Juices Up Your Texting

chp_cell_phone
…Minus the ‘roid rage.

As long-time readers know, I can be counted on to always have my cell phone on me. Whether or not that’s healthy is another topic, but the only thing I’m just about guaranteed to be fewer than ten feet away from is my cell phone.

Because of that, I’m always looking for ways to be productive with my cell phone, to have it do tasks that I’d normally do at my computer- that way, I get things done at all the random times in the day when I’ve got nothing to do, and have my cell phone at hand.

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Get Email On Your Phone- Any Phone

Between iPhones, Blackberries and the like, more and more people seem to have access to their email on their phones. For many people, though, this isn’t the case.Smartphones are expensive, and come with data plans that are even more expensive. For those who don’t constantly need access to their email and calendar, and don’t want the Internet on their tiny phone screen, and certainly don’t want to pay for it, there aren’t usually other options.

Or maybe there are options. Cybernet has reported on a potentially great alternative to data plans, which involves getting your emails through SMS. What does this mean? It means that emails can be changed to text messages, and then forwarded to your phone for no cost other than what you would pay for a text message. Continue reading

8 Ways to Jott Things Done

Use

Jott is possibly the app has saved me the most time, and probably my life a couple of times (I’m a serial text-while-driving person).


Essentially, it’s a dial-to-note program. You call a number, and you’re asked “Who do you want to Jott?” You decide, and then record your message. When you’re done, you either wait and record another one, or just hang up. Your message gets delivered- with some extras (they have to make money somehow), but usually really well. The transcription service is excellent, and the delivery is fast.

The feature that really worked Jott into my daily life, though, was how many different things it works with. You can use it as a standalone app, because it allows you to manipulate and change your Jotts into lists, set reminders, and use it as its own task-list. If you don’t want to, though, it works with a huge and growing number of other applications. Here are the 8 things I use Jott for:

Jott to Evernote- With an Evernote account comes an email address to your particular account. You can set that email up as a contact, then Jott directly to it.

Jott to Google Calendar- Jott has “Jott Links.” You add a link to your Google Calendar, call Jott, say “lunch tomorrow at 1 at Dave’s.” Jott does the rest.

Jott to Twitter- If you’re a serial Twitter user, call Jott, say “Twitter,” and talk your 140 characters’ worth. Update your Twitter right then and there.

Jott Your Blog
- Both Blogger and WordPress work with Jott, and you can actually create a blog post right from Jott. It’s imperfect, and it makes some syntax errors, but generally is pretty cool.

Jott to Xpenser
- As I’ve written about before, here, I use Xpenser to track all the massive number of places I spend money. I can call Jott, say Xpenser, and tell it what I spent, and it shows up. No wasted text, or email- it’s quick, easy, and effective.

Jott to Remember the Milk-
The same rule applies as with Evernote. You add your RTM email as a contact, call Jott, say “Remember the Milk” or “Tasks” or “total awesomeness,” whatever you decide. Say your task, and it shows up right away in your Inbox.

Jott Your RSS-
You can set up Jott to check your RSS feeds for you, and actually read them to you over the phone. Call and say “Jott Feeds,” and then name the feed you want to read. It will read back posts to you, and if you’re clever about it, you can use it to check email, weather, anything.

Jott a Text Message
- Phone numbers can also be converted to emails, and used with Jott. For instance, any Verizon phone number is your10digitnumber@vtext.com. A list of all the carriers is here. Add the number as a contact, and Jott a text message to them. Just make sure you keep it short.

The thing I like least about Jott is that to set up links, you have to be at your computer. You can text Jott to add a contact by sending “Add Contact ” to 40101.

Jott also has Blackberry and iPhone versions, but I’m good with just the cell phone.

Obviously, you have to set up an account to do all this, but it’s an easy process. I’ve only named a few things Jott works so well with, there are many more great features that make Jott worth a spot in your Speed Dial.

Email the Future

Explore

Sendible is trying to become your one-stop spot for all your outgoing communication needs, and actually does a pretty good job.

When you log in to the beta, you’re presented with a homepage. From there, you can do a huge number of things- update your Facebook and Twitter accounts, write on your blog, schedule reminders, and the bread and butter of the site- schedule a message to be sent.


You can send email, SMS (with ads for free, or cheap with none), Facebook, MySpace, Friendster (people still use Friendster?!?), Hi5, and Orkut. You create a message in any of these formats, set a destination, a send-time, and a recurrence, if you want (recurrences are nice for Birthdays- just send it every year).

If you don’t want to forget to remind yourself or someone else about something, or text your friends from your computer, or just update all your social sites from one spot, Sendible’s for you. Check it out here.

My only wonder about Sendible is whether or not people will actually use it: it’s helpful, but only in very specific instances- how often do you know now that you’re going to need to email someone in the future? I’ve used it a couple of times, but don’t see it becoming a daily thing for me. I highlight it here, though, because for anyone who needs something like this, Sendible does it really well.

Are there uses for this I’m not thinking of? What would or do you use this for?

Also- for some reason, this whole idea reminds me of this scene from “The Office.”

8 Reasons to Get an Unlimited Texting Plan

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Not so long ago, letters were the primary mode of communication. Then it became email. Now, the trend seems to be tipping toward SMS, or text messaging.

Texting allows people to send short, quick messages between cell phones. Since it seems almost everyone these days has a cell phone, and always has it with them, it’s the easiest way to get in touch with someone quickly.

You can, however, use a text message to do a lot more than just talk to your friends. Here are 8 of the best and most helpful things you can do, just with a simple text message.

Update Twitter
Twitter is a popular micro-blogging site, located here. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you should get one. It’s a great, simple way to update what you’re doing, where you are, and stay updated on your friends as well. A text message to 40404 will update your Twitter account.

Never Be Late
Need to get your laundry in an hour? Need to remember to pick up the kids in 3 hours? Follow the Timer bot on Twitter, and send it a text message. For instance, send “d timer switch laundry 3:30″ to 40404 (Twitter again- get the account), and it will send you a text message reminding you. “d” for direct message, “timer” for timer, and then your reminder time. Or, you can say “pick up kids 1 hour” and it will remind you in an hour. It’s saved me a number of times. Really helpful.

Track Your Expenses
I use Xpenser, an up-and-coming money manager, a way to track where your money goes. I wrote about it a while ago, here. Anytime you spend money, you send a text to your account with “exp type $ notes,” and it keeps your money tracked. It’s really helpful, and does a great job of helping me figure out why I’m broke all the time.

Text Google
Send a text to Google (466453) with any number of things, and Google’s looking out for you. Here are the things you can do, fom the Google website:

Get Driving Directions
This is part of the above, but worth its own note. Are you lost all the time? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. And you’re not lost for long. Send “directions,” followed by the address where you are and the address you want to find to Google (466453), and you’ll get a return text with the directions. Sometimes it takes more than one message, but it’ll get you out of a jam.

Get Questions Answered
Even though Google will answer your questions, it’s not the best. For the best, go to ChaCha. It’s a website too, but is designed for the phone. You can call also, but the easiest thing to do is send a text message to 242242. You ask a question, and a live human being answers it for you. The answers are usually really good- use it to win a bet, or just generally look brilliant.

Get Movie Times/Buy Movie Tickets
Though Google offers this too, Fandango does a great job of movie times through SMS. Text the movie title and your zip code to 36436, and it sends back the listings. Some carriers even let you buy tickets!

Find a Starbucks
This one’s not as important, since there are Starbucks’ everywhere you look. If, by some miracle, you can’t see a Starbucks, then send your zip code to MYSBUX (697289) and you’ll get a response with the three closest locations.

If you’re interested, here are more lists of things to do with text messaging. There are a ton out there- the ones above are my favorites, but there are certainly a lot more of them. Here are a few sites:

16 Things You Can Do with SMS Text Messages


Five Great Things You Can Do With a Text Message For Free

Use Your Mobile Phone to Stay Organized On the Go

13 Ways to use Google SMS