You're a Writer? Then Use The Internet!

Rusty Writer
Image by Steve Wampler via Flickr

Nice post by author Mary Warner at the WooWooTeaCup Journal listing many of the ways in which writers can use the internet to support their writing habit. While these suggestions apply generically to writers of all persuasions, there are jewels for business and legal writers to be found in her list. From getting reference help to clipping research information, from finding quotes to communing with other writers and even learning a bit about copyright, Mary has quite a few bases covered. Hit the jump and learn how other writers employ the vast array of tools the internet has to offer!

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You’re a Writer? Then Use The Internet!

Rusty Writer
Image by Steve Wampler via Flickr

Nice post by author Mary Warner at the WooWooTeaCup Journal listing many of the ways in which writers can use the internet to support their writing habit. While these suggestions apply generically to writers of all persuasions, there are jewels for business and legal writers to be found in her list. From getting reference help to clipping research information, from finding quotes to communing with other writers and even learning a bit about copyright, Mary has quite a few bases covered. Hit the jump and learn how other writers employ the vast array of tools the internet has to offer!

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Too Many Phones? Not Enough Time? Try Google Voice

Google Voice muy pronto!
Image by marcopako  via Flickr

Immersed as I am in web applications and research, I tend to take for granted that news that might seem “old” might not in fact be “old” for the vast majority. Take Google Voice, for example. I have known about Google Voice for months now and have gotten into the fray with it, played with it, coddled it and cooed to it. But that doesn’t mean that you have. And maybe you have heard about it, but don’t really know what it is all about and would like to hear more.

Google Voice used to be a service known as GrandCentral before it was eaten Jonah-like by the Google whale in 2007. Check out the official Google blog and related links here. It is a free service, like other Google apps, and employs VoIP (voice over internet) to permit you to group your phone numbers together and manage them from one location – Google.

It is currently only available in the United States. You can select one of several numbers in various area codes across the country (there were pages and pages of available numbers in my area code). Once you select that number, you authenticate your existing home, work, cell and other phone numbers via your GV number and can then stream your calls from these disparate sources into your GV number. You can then route calls based on the original number source, contact group and time of day.

Routing isn’t the only cool feature. You can get voicemail with transcription that can be accessed either by your computer or your phone. You can also mark callers as spam and NEVER HEAR FROM THEM AGAIN (can you tell I like this feature?). You can assign voice mail greetings based on the caller and switch phone lines during a call. You can forward SMS and you can record calls.

Access your settings and information via the website. I copied this list of features from the Google Voice Wikipedia entry:

  • A single Google number for all user’s phones.
  • Free calls and SMS in the contiguous US.
  • Calling International phone numbers for as low as 0.01 USD per minute.
  • Call screening. Announce callers based on their number or by an automated identification request for blocked numbers.
  • Listen in on someone recording a voicemail before taking a call.
  • Block calls.
  • Send, receive, and store SMS online.
  • Answer an incoming call on any of your phones.
  • Phone routing. Choose which phones should ring based on who calls.
  • Forwarding phones.
  • Voicemail transcripts. Read voicemails online.
  • Listen to voicemail online or from a phone.
  • Receive notifications of voicemails via email or SMS.
  • Personalized greeting that vary greetings by caller.
  • The ability to forward or download voicemails.
  • Conference calling.
  • Record calls and store them online.
  • Switch phones during a call.
  • View the web inbox from a mobile device/phone.
  • Set preferences for contacts by group.
  • Ability to change your number for a fee.

Undoubtedly, Google Voice is a new visualization and implementation of conventional phone technology. I haven’t fully incorporated it into my daily routine, but I am working towards centralizing my telephonic life and reaping the benefits of GV’s maximum control and organization.

Readers may be aware of the recent brouhaha about Apple’s rejection of the Google Voice application from the App Store, sparking an inquiry by the FCC into Apple’s and ATT’s actions and intentions. While this posturing plays out, I understand that a “work around” has been achieved via the mobile web. I am looking forward to it, as I am hoping to drop my business line in favor of an iPhone-powered GV line.

How do you get Google Voice? Well, if you are a grandfathered GrandCentral customer, you have it already. If you aren’t, as I wasn’t, you can request an invite here. If you do check it out, I would love to hear what you think of it, your experiences with it and how you are utilizing it in your communications practices.

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? – Txt Ur Librarian or Expert 4 411

This sticker seen in Paris satirizes the popul...
Image via Wikipedia

What a great idea for dispensing reference information in the digital age: MyInfoQuest.com. This website is a collaboration among fifty participating libraries, Altarama Information Systems and WebClarity Software, Inc.  The “collaborative text messaging” service permits patrons of the participating libraries to text questions to the service at number 309-222-7740 and receive a text response from a real, live reference librarian. The pilot program just started at the end of July and will continue through December, 2009. While standard text messaging rates apply, the service itself is free. Service hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mon – Fri and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. On Sunday, the librarians rest.

Not a member of the MyInfoQuest consortium libraries and/or interested in help outside of their service hours? Try ChaCha – another free service offering 24 hours of “expert” answers to phone calls or text questions. You can call ChaCha at 1.800.2ChaCha (1.800.224.2242) or text ChaCha at 242242 (spells ChaCha). ChaCha routes the question to “the most knowledgable person on that topic in our guide community.” The answer is spit back out as a text message reportedly within minutes. I couldn’t resist – I followed a link to see what people were asking and came up with this list:

  • Are dolphins nice or mean to people
    1 min ago | Asked 3 times | in Animals & Plants
  • What is the biggest water slide in the world
    1 min ago | Asked 12 times | in Attractions & Destinations
  • Who does the voice of chris griffen from family guy
    1 min ago | Asked 2 times | in TV & Radio
  • If you switch birth control pills does it make you more likely to get pregnant for a while
    1 min ago | Asked 2 times | in Pregnancy
  • What is longest word in the english language
    1 min ago | Asked 90 times | in Literature , Definitions , Language & Lookup
  • Are there muscles in your fingers
    1 min ago | in Fitness , Biology
  • What does ‘Dulce et decorum est, Pro patria mori’ mean
    1 min ago | in Translations
  • What is the best way to preserve and dry a rose
    1 min ago | in Home & Garden
  • What is a foxtrot
    1 min ago | Asked 6 times | in Definitions
  • What is the number to nationwide insurance company
    1 min ago | Asked 2 times | in Demographics
  • How many people live in the US? How many people live in the US
    1 min ago | Asked 96 times | in Demographics
  • What movies has Alexa Vega appeared in
    1 min ago | Asked 13 times | in Movies
  • What are the basic rules of tennis
    1 min ago | Asked 6 times | in Tennis
  • What is the Chicago Whitesox stadium name
    1 min ago | Asked 2 times | in Baseball
  • What are the lyrics to “over the rainbow”
    1 min ago | Asked 10 times | in Music
  • What is the best way to get a girl to approach you
    1 min ago | Asked 2 times | in Relationships & Dating
  • What is the cheat code for Sims 2 Pets for the computer
  • Clearly, ChaCha is highly focused on pop culture and most answers appear readily obtainable from a basic Google search. I am tempted to run a legal question through the service and see what kind of response I get in return.

    In any event, the model of ready access to an “expert” and receipt of an answer within minutes in mobile “txt” form is intiguing and appealing. I can envision legal reference professionals providing such a service to their attorney-clients and attorneys providing such a service to their own clients, subject to ethical guidelines of course. Innovation in a medium embraced by the masses seems is a winner in my book.

    Hat tip to ResourceShelf

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