Su Tech Ennui: Get on the train!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Get on the train!

I'm beta-testing a new Google service at the moment which isn't all that well known yet: Grand Central. It's a web-based voicemail system and like many of the VOIP services on the net, it lets you select a phone number from almost anywhere in the US - you're not limited to your local calling area.

When I picked my number, I started with a few words that might make good phone numbers when spelled out, and worked out the area code that corresponds to the first 3 digits - there aren't that many area codes out there that make sense as words so I was lucky when I found that "TOA" mapped to a valid one. Then they gave me a choice of a couple of dozen numbers, so I narrowed that list down to ones which started with an exchange code beginning with '5' so that my number would then be dialable as "TOAL nnnnnn". From there it was trivial to feed the handful of proferred numbers into a "phone to word" lookup program, and find which of them made a sensible word! Bingo! - a personalised phone number for free! :-)

The GC service sports some pretty nice features; the only downside is that it looks like it'll be free only during the beta test - that wasn't obvious until *after* I'd signed up. So there's a serious risk I might get hooked on this stuff (or have too many people using my new number to be willing to cancel it after the beta) and so end up paying for yet another phone line.

Still, it is nice. Really nice. Sign up at their web site - I put my name on the waiting list around 11pm one evening and had an invitation to join in my mailbox by midnight. Once you're in, it's like the early days of GMail where you get 10 invitations to pass on to friends, and they in turn get 10 more, ad infinitum.


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