Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

Family Tech : Text Message Alerts of Snow Days

If you are outside my area, your local school district probably has a similar ability to send you text messages alerting you of snow days.  This week's Family Tech column.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

How to send a text message from email

In my Family Tech column for Sunday, January 23, 2011, I talk about how to receive text message alerts for various emergencies.  Some of the services schools use to alert parents, teaches, and students of snow days provide emails for free, but charge for text messages.

I have audible notifications for emails on my phone turned off since I receive so many emails.  I do have audio notications on for text messagres, since I receive them infrequently and they always tend to have information I need to know sooner than later.

It is possible to send an email to a text message :

To send an email and receive it as a text message,  just replace "phonenumber" with your phone number.

For example, to send an email to the text message 703-555-1212 if the cell phone that number uses Sprint, then just address the email to ""

You need to change the part that comes after the @ symbol depending on who the carrier is for the phone number you are sending to:

I tried to simply put my into the noticiation service that alerted me to a school closing when it asked for my email address, but they were too smart for that.

Note:  Prince William County provides free text messaging.  This was for a county other than PWC.

So I had them email to my Gmail account.  Then I created a filter in Gmail to forward the message to my phone as a text message.

Note You'll normally have to wait for the first email before you can do this because you need to know what email account sends you the alert.

In Gmail, click Settings in the upper right hand corner.

When the Settings Page appears, click Filters.  You may have to scroll down to find it if you already have Filters made.

In the From space, enter the email address that sends you the alert. 

You can click then Test Search button to make sure it sees the email you have already received from that company,

Then click the Next Button.

Next, we need to tell it to forward the email to your phone as a text message by choosing the "Forward it to" check box, and entering in the correct email address.  The email address is created by combining your phone number and the email address for your carrier from the list above.

 Finally, click Create Filter.

Next time an email comes in alerting you to a school closing, for example, this filter should forward it as a text message to your phone.

If you do not have Gmail, check your email client for the ability automatically forward selected emails.

The links page for this week's column is here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Things my Smartphone has replaced...

In the column appearing tomorrow [link to column], I start to list all the devices my Smartphone  has replaced.  I realized that list alone could fill the entire column.

I've seen lists like this before but bear with me.  I think I'll have a few other lists do not.

  • Alarm clock
  • Clock
  • eBook Reader
  • Flashlight
  • Remote terminal for my Desktop PC
  • Barcode Scanner
  • Web access
  • Calculator
  • Calendar
  • Camcorder
  • Camera
  • Address book
  • Document Scanner
  • File Cabinet
  • Email device
  • Movie Guide
  • Cassette Tape player
  • Maps
  • GPS Navigation Device
  • MP3 Player
  • Portable Video Player
  • Weather Radio
  • TV Guide
  • Kitchen Timer
  • Voice Mail
  • TV Station
  • Photo Album
  • Study Guides
  • Two way pager

and of course....

  • Phone

Looking over the list, most are natural.  Even if someone hasn't  owned a Smartphone, most know it can play videos, music, has an alarm, can show photos, take pictures and shoot video.  A couple are probably a bit of a surprise.

File Cabinet?  Yes, using Evernote and a scanner, I can put all the documents in my life into Evernote, and make them accessible from my PC, and my phone.

TV Station?  I was just playing with this this morning. allows you to send video from the video camera on your phone across the internet.  I can live stream video from wherever I am.  A family baptism, stream it to those out of town.  A wedding, a kids soccer game, whatever.

When a tsunamis was predicted for Hawaii a year ago, people used UStream to show what was happening on the beach.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Family Tech : Making Reality Shows Possible

Cheaper professional gear, so cheap amateurs can buy it in some cases, is what makes reality shows possible.  These advances in technology, and lowering of prices, was the topic of  Sunday's Family Tech column.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Family Tech: I love it when they think I'm a wizard

Last Friday I went to a friend's house to help get her Christmas present, an HP netbook, up and running.

I had done the same for her when she bought a new laptop several months ago.  She wanted to make sure the same programs she used on the laptop were on the netbook, and she had access to the same files.

I looked on the laptop for the notes file I had made with the list of applications, and her logins and passwords, specifically for Dropbox.  Dropbox is very useful for making sure the files she uses on the laptop, she also has on the netbook, and indeed, on her office computer.

I couldn't find the notes file on the laptop, but I quickly pulled it up on my phone in Evernote where I'd stored a copy.

When we decided she needed a copy of Office on the netbook, I reminded her she was eligible for a student discount.  We went out to one of the many websites that market Office to students.  When it required a scan of her student ID card, I used DocScan on my Android phone to take a photo of her student ID card, convert it to a PDF file and email it to her account so she could forward it from her own account to the retailer.

Needless to say, she was quite impressed with what I could accomplish with just my phone.

To tell the truth, so was I.  It was all a good illustration of what I had just written about and submitted for this week's Family Tech column:  Towards the Paperless Home.