Google Offers Free 411 - No Ads!
[insert a joke about getting da 411 on the 411 here]
Google is offering free 411 service; ad-free, very sophisticated voice recognition, and oddly unirritating directory assistance. You can only reach businesses currently, but at least there aren't any ads right quite yet, which is a nice break.
Just call 1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411) and give it a try, should you be in need of a business number.
Crave more or less broke this story for me, but I'm more psyched about this than I thought I would be. First, the voice rec abilities are pretty stunning. I called to get the number of a local restaurant, Purple Cafe and Wine Bar. Even though I slurred this as much as possible, the pleasant computer voice on the other end responded "Purple Cafe and Wine Bar" in a baritone timber before offering me the number.
The voice rec had a harder time with my favorite Chinese place, Sichuanese Cuisine. Also, it had some fairly hilarious pronunciations of local cities, which aren't always easy to figure out. You know the way Worcester in pronounced "Woostuh" in Massachusetts? We have a city named Sequim, pronounced "Squim" and the sexy male computer voice squeezed about three more syllables out of it than necessary.
Now, Google's record-keeping system has always freaked me out a bit - I use Gmail but am occasionally bothered when the targeted ads hit too close to home ("Hemorrhoids? Cheap meds!"), and these calls are recorded, I'm sure for the purpose of fine tuning the system to respond better to personal idiolects. So I'm racheting down my "Google is eveil" rhetoric, which is based more on their inability to hire me than any real threat.
Photo by Belen.