I’ve been called a computer addict before. More than once. I have an unending need to be online doing something, regardless of how inane and pointless it may be. With Google, Wikipedia and the like, finding information has never been easier. With YouTube, StumbleUpon and others, having fun is a click away. Only problem is, I’m not always in front of my computer. It’s a frightening prospect.
Thankfully, though, there are a ton of ways to find to do computer-like things when you’re not at your computer. Different places are creeping up that will help you read emails, make plans, win bets, find pointless information, and generally do things you’d do on the computer, without it.
I’m going to assume that you have your cell phone with you when you’re away from your computer. With just your cell, and for most of these, any cell will do, you can do many of the things you always do on the computer.
Here are 9 of the many ways you can use a computer with just a cell phone, beyond just accessing mobile sites (which most sites have by now):
Disclaimer: with these products, you will start texting – A LOT. If you don’t have an unlimited texting plan, prepare to see your bills go up more than slightly!
1. Texting, Google-style with Google SMS
You name it,can do it with a text message. By sending a text message to GOOGLE (466453) you can find information like restaurant listings, weather, sports scores, calculator, conversions, and the like. Here’s the full listing, from Google, of all the things they can do with your text message.
But of course there are some risks to using Google SMS…..
2. Ask, and You Shall Be Answered
Got questions? Text them to ChaCha (242242). A real-live human being will answer your question in 160 characters, and send you the answer.
ChaCha is great because it’s a real person on the other end, which means you can ask a real question instead of trying to nail down search terms. If you don’t want to send a text message, call 1 (800) 224-2242 (2ChaCha). ChaCha can also send you a random joke or weather information, but the question and answer service is their bread-and-butter. It’s a great way to settle bets, or find answers to the irritating questions you just can’t seem to figure out.
3. Get your Wikipedia On
Wikipedia, in the words of The Office’s Michael Scott, “is the best thing ever.” Trouble is, for anyone who’s tried to use it from a cell phone browser, it’s tough to read. The formatting is bad for a cell phone, and using Wikipedia is much harder. Wapedia fixes that by taking Wikipedia and formatting it in a way that’s much easier to read on your cell phone. It strips away all the unnecessary stuff like the sidebar links, and puts everything into a one-column view that’s much easier to read on your cell phone. For an information-phile like me, Wapedia’s a great way to keep an easy-to-use Wikipedia in your pocket.
4. Go to the Movies
Want to go to the movies? Despite their terribly annoying ads, Fandango‘s still the best place to buy movie tickets. In addition to their mobile site, you can use their relatively new SMS service to make buying tickets from your cell phone even easier. Send your zip code and a movie title to FNDGO (36436), and Fandango finds all the results for you. With an increasing number of carriers, you can even buy tickets with a text. Spur-of-the-moment movie craving? You’re all set.
5. Find a Starbucks and some Wi-Fi
I love Starbucks. There’s one on the ground floor of the building where I live, and I may personally be keeping it in business. Odds are, wherever you are, you’ll be able to find a Starbucks just by turning around. If not though, text your zip code to MYSBUX (697289) and Starbucks will show you their three nearest locations. Plus, with more and more Starbucks offering Wi-Fi, you’ll be able to get back on your computer.
Don’t want to go to Starbucks? Send “wifi” and your location to US411(87411), and you’ll get a whole list of free Wi-Fi hotspots nearby. That way, you won’t have to miss your computer any longer.
6. “Hello, Operator?”
Google search, for your voice and phone. Most 411 services are ridiculously expensive, but Goog-411 isn’t. You search Google with your voice, for a business or personal listing, and it connects you for free. You can even request a text message with all the contact info, for free. Just dial 1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-6446411). For more, check out Karl’s post.
7. Never Miss a Thing
Let’s say you’re looking to buy something on Craigslist. A boat, say. If you want to know when a boat comes onto Craigslist that’s in your price range, check out Notify.me. Set up notifications for everything from your friends’ Twitter statuses to breaking news stories, and Notify.me sends you an alert every time something matches.
They can be sent to your IM, email, desktop client, or cell phone via SMS. This one’s the one that will kill your texting bill, but if you’re sitting at your computer waiting for something, or just don’t want to be behind, Notify.me is a really useful tool.
8. Never Miss the Important Stuff
So, you’re kind of a big deal. People know you. Sometimes you get important email, even when you’re away from your desk. With AwayFind, you don’t need to worry about missing crucial email when you’re not at your computer. Using AwayFind, you can set up an “Out Of Office” email to auto-respond every time you get email, and include a link to your AwayFind page.
If someone needs to get in touch with you, they can fill out the AwayFind form, and their email comes through to you on your phone. It gets trimmed to one message, and helps you rest easy that if someone really needed to get through to you while you’re on vacation, they could. Plus, it gives you something to check as habitually as you do your email.
9. Buy, Buy, Buy
Let’s be honest: half the fun of the Web is the random, unneeded impulse buys. If you’re away from your computer and decided you’ve just got to have that cool thing you saw this morning, never fear, Amazon is here!
Using their “” service, you can send a text message with a product name to AMAZON (262966). You’ll get two results from Amazon, with more coming if you reply with a text saying “m”. If you decide to buy something, reply with the result number, and you’ll get a call from Amazon to create and confirm your order. It’s so simple, it’s a little scary.
Who says you need to be at a computer all the time? Just by using your cell phone, you can free yourself from its grip.
Which cellphone numbers or mobile services do you use to grab information off the internet?