Last week, in “My Brilliant Idea, Their Great Idea, and Twins,” I discussed a hypothetical service that would really help me remember what was said during a cell-phone conversation. A key component of the service would be the simplicity—every time you made or received a call on your cell phone, the phone would record the message, transcribe it, and e-mail it to you afterwards with the push of a single button.
With current transcribing technology, this may not be possible. But in the comments section, Joe pointed out that there is a company out there that provides a slightly similar service. And it’s free.
The company is called Jott. The basic idea is that you go to the website, sign up for the service (it only takes about 2 minutes, and you don’t have to enter a credit card number), and then you’re good to go. How does it work? If you’re on the road or just don’t have a pencil handy when you need to jot(t) something down, you call Jott—it’s on my speed dial—and leave yourself a message. A few minutes later, you’ll receive an e-mail with the text of that message. I don’t know about you, but having the text of an idea or thought I have on e-mail is a lot more helpful than having a voice mail from myself.
You can also set up Jott to send messages—e-mails or texts—to other people. You could eliminate the dangers of texting while driving by doing this. Sure, talking on the cell phone while driving is a slight distraction, but not nearly as much as texting.
My Jott messages, although not perfect, have come through pretty clear so far. So clear, in fact, that I had my doubts that software could be deciphering my voice and transcribing it. Are there people doing this? Sure enough, there are. I’m not sure where they’re located, but someone out there is actually listening to your message and typing it for you. I can see that weirding some people out, but I don’t have a problem with it. If some guy in Mumbai can use my “Buy Girl Scout cookies!” message to his advantage, good for him.
My friend Adam, of What I Love fame, sent out a notice the other day about a service I wasn’t familiar with: RSS Forward. You can see the link for this service on the right of my blog, above the blog archive. The service is simple: You put your e-mail in that little box and click to subscribe, and you’ll start receiving my blog in e-mail format whenever I write a new one. That way you don’t have to refresh my web site or check for a new RSS feed every five minutes. The only problem is that it might conflict with the next technology update…
This is the best of the tools I’m listing today. Seriously, if you maintain a web page or a blog, you need to post the html for Google Analytics on it. In the same way that published authors are addicted to their Amazon.com ranking, I’m addicted to my Analytics stats.
Basically, Analytics tells me how many people look at my blog every day (hence my concern about RSS Forward…I’m not sure if that will register as a page view or not, but I think it will). My peak was 33 visits on January 14. In total, 58 different people (or some number of people on 58 different computers) have visited my blog, spending an average of 2 minutes and 39 seconds there. Analytics also shows me a breakdown of how people get to my blog—currently, 49% of people are direct traffic, 30% come from search engines, and 21% come from search engines.
However, the coolest part is that I can get a rough idea of where my visitors are located (don’t worry, I can’t find any of you…the breakdown is by city). Most of my visitors are in the United States, but a few trickle in from Canada, Scotland, Italy, and India. I’ll celebrate when I get my first user from Japan. The city breakdown is fascinating—I’ve had 47 visits from Washington, DC, far more than any other city (St. Louis: 25; Bogart: 20; Richmond: 16). Bogart, you ask? I have no idea. That might be Gabby, but I think he’s in Athens. And really, what’s up with DC? I know only one person there who consistently checks my blog…perhaps there are some phantom users? Reveal yourselves!
I’m definitely interested in attracting people I don’t know to my blog, particularly repeat users, but the biggest roadblock may be that I don’t have a consistent theme that threads all of my posts together. I could do that, but at the same time, I don’t want to limit myself to writing about one specific topic…that could get boring. I’ve started tagging my blogs more diligently, so if I start to see a pattern, perhaps I’ll devote Mondays to a certain topic, Tuesdays to another theme, and so on. If any of you (especially you mystery readers!) have any suggestions, let me know.
My Greatest Fear