Amazingly Cool Resource #2:Callwave
I heard a story on NPR several months ago featuring one of the personal pet peeves of one of their reporters. This reporter hated having to sit through the recorded voice which tells you that So-and-so is currently unavailable, and that to leave a message you may start speaking after the tone, and if you would like to send this person a numeric page (has any one in the history of cellphones ever left a numeric page?), then you may enter it using the keypad, and oh, yes, one more thing that I need to tell you before I let you get on with leaving your message, when you are finished leaving your message (which you would already be finished with if we weren't still instructing you), you may hang up (Ah, ah! Didn't say "Simon Says Hang Up!") or press 1 for more options.
Like you possibly need more options. The only option you want at this point is the option to make this recorded operator lady Shut Up, so you can leave your message, which is quite likely shorter than the instructions that the phone company felt you needed in order to leave it! It's Leaving a message! It's not Rocket Surgery! I can figure out how to hang up after I am finished all by myself! Geez! And you know what else? I can also dress myself and go to the potty like a big kid! (most of the time.)
So imagine my surprise when I called my brother the other day, and got A very brief message telling me that he was unavailable and to leave A message after the tone, followed immediately by the Tone! I was in shock! I was expecting Ms. Recorded Operator-Bot to read me "Voicemail For Dummies", but all of a sudden it's Message Time? Wow!
I asked if he had changed to a new cellular carrier, because I had previously been using the same Network (America's Most Reliable one, if their Ads are to be believed), and if he had changed carriers ,then I wouldn't get to use my IN™ Minutes to talk to him anymore. But No! he hadn't changed networks, just voicemail services. Apparently you can do that!
He told me he was using a service called Callwave, which not only gave his callers a gloriously brief message, but afforded him a host of other benefits as well, and told me to go check out their website. So I did, and now I will never go back. Callwave is as much a leap ahead of Standard-issue Voicemail as Voicemail itself was to the Cassette Tape Answering Machine.
Now when i get a call (or more precisely, when I miss a call), callwave takes a message for me. They store the message on their servers, where I can log on and hear it from my computer's speakers
Or, If I am on the go, I can check from my phone handset, just like with the standard issue system.
OR, if I am really on the go, or in a meeting, or at a movie, or otherwise occupied, I don't even have to raise the handset to my ear. I can READ your message. Yes, you heard me right... or rather, Read me right! Callwave's Voice recognition software creates a transcript of the call, and Text Messages it to me. (you can set the account so that you get transcripts either by Email, or TXT, or both. Useful if you get charged per-Text.)
The voice recognition software is not perfect, and leads to some funny garble in the message, especially the beginnings and endings of the call, where people tend to speak fast, and not directly into the phone. I haven't got a text message yet from this service that hasn't contained some level of garble. However, all of the transcripts that I have received have been understandable. You get the gist. As a matter of fact, the name of this Technology is "GIST"
The service is free, and not even supported by ads, although you can upgrade to a "Pro" Account if you are a power user.