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Tap into these free cell-phone services

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in Office Technology

Your cell phone could be doing a lot more for you, says David Pogue, technology expert for The New York Times.

Here’s Pogue’s rundown of the “most exciting” services awaiting your cell phone … and they’re all free:

1. Nab a number for nothing. Avoid the extra $2 charge every time you dial 411 by using 800-FREE-411 (800-373-3411) instead. Listen to a 20-second ad, then hear your listing.

Alternative: Text-message your request to 46645 (that’s “Google” without the “e”). Example: “Eileen Flannery 27701.” In seconds, Google replies with Eileen’s address and phone number.

2. Find answers on the fly. Use Google’s 46645 text-messaging service to find out other things, as well. Handy for times when you’re in a meeting or off-site and need info at your fingertips.

Examples: “weather las vegas” for a weather report, “define paradigm” for a word’s meaning, “miami fl to 20002” for driving directions, “25 usd in euros” for a currency conversion.

Although the text message itself may cost a few cents, the info service is free.

3. Dial overseas for free. Dial to any one of 50 countries for the cost of a call to Iowa through a service called FuturePhone. Call (712)858-8883, press “1” for English, then punch in 011, the country code and phone number.

Note: In some countries, you can reach landlines but not cell phones.

4. ‘Ping’ to save time. Pinger lets you send a quick voice message to anyone with an e-mail address, when you have only a few seconds to spare. (Perfect for when you don’t want to become snared in a long conversation or interrupt the other person with a phone call.)

Recipients can see that you’ve pinged, listen to your message, then reply with their own voice message. It’s efficient, like e-mail, but allows your voice tone to come across.

Sign up at pinger.com.

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