To start, I have to admit I have a low-level addiction to the TED lecture series. If you haven't watched any of these lecture-videos, you need to do so, now. They're basically 18-20 minute mini lectures by people involved in technology education or design (hence, TED). The speakers run the gamut from Malcolm Gladwell to the Bronx's own Majora Carter.
The tricks and services mentioned in the title of this post come from a TED lecture by the New York Times's Technology editor David Pogue. Among the many things he reveals in this lecture are two of the coolest services I can think of for a cell phone to possess.
Here they are:
1) The benevolent dictatorship that is Google provides FREE 411-type service through text messaging. I know we've all succumbed to dialing 411 and paying the 2 bucks at the end of the month. No longer will you need to eat that $2 fee. All you need do is type either a general question (currency exchange, capital of country, etc) or even simply the name and city of a business to "GOOGL" or 46645. I swear to sweet Jesus this works. The only fee is for a normal test message.
2) No longer will you ever need to have a question go unanswered when you are away from a computer or your set of Encyclopedia Britannica. Any question, practical or not, can be asked when you dial 1.800.2CHACHA (1.800.2242424). After you ask your question verbally, you will get a text message confirming your question, quickly followed by another text message with your answer. I've used this for sports scores, album titles, really anything. As proof of how powerful a service this is, I put it to the test by asking "Who were Charlemagne's grandsons?"
Very dutifully, I received a text message in a few minutes with the answer that all of you Frankophiles already know: Louis the Fat, Charles the Bald, and Lothair I. Once again the only fee is for a normal call and text message.
Here's the first hand video to watch for yourself: