December 12, 2007
About a week ago I listed a bunch of things I wanted to do over my vacation. One of them was to write up my thoughts about some great tools out there that I just can’t live without. But I realised that I need to write those up pretty soon because while I couldn’t live without them while working, I can live without them all just fine while sitting on my ass and doing nothing.
So just after telling you about a service I couldn’t use because my phone is so awful, I thought I would tell you about a service anyone can use even if they have a terrible phone. And as my title said, I would have died a few times without it. The service is SpinVox Memo and its free!!! Well…not quite free…but it costs whatever the phone call costs. For those of us on an unlimited plan or who never see their phone bills, its pretty close to free.
Now you may be wondering how a free phone service saves me from death…repeatedly. Let me describe the scenario. Every day that I am not traveling, I drive down from my home to our offices in Vianen. For those of you not familiar with the Netherlands, that’s a 50 km (30 miles) drive that takes anywhere from 35 to 120 minutes depending on traffic. If I commuted the other way, make that a 60-180 minute drive, but thankfully I am not insane. On that drive I keep myself busy by listening to the latest NYTimes from Audible, or watch the other stupid people crash. It’s mayhem out here. But every now and then a thought goes through my head that I need to address later that day. If I don’t, bad things could happen. Before SpinVox, I would simply forget about them until that bad thing happened, then run around at the last minute to get it done. Now I simply press a single speed dial button on my phone, say what I want to remember, and hang up. By the time I arrive at work (but usually within a couple of minutes) I have received an email from SpinVox with the text of what I said. It feels like magic.
Well, not quite like magic. It would be great if it worked like that all the time but its often a little bit off. The message I get is usually an approximation of what I said, so I have to act on them right away otherwise I will have no idea what I was thinking. There better not be any other voices or the text is really bad. So usually, I pause the Times, and speak on my phone using my bluetooth headset (an NX6000). I speak slowly and clearly. If I do all of that, it gets 80-90% of what I actually said. And I make sure I don’t say much because the longer I talk, the less it actually gets.
Despite all those faults, it does a really good job overall. By the time I get to work, I have 4 or 5 SpinVox emails waiting for me and I convert them to tasks in Outlook first thing. I wish it would do a bit more though. I think they have other services, but their website is a bit confusing so I am sticking with just Memo for now. Jott seems to have a more complete service and their site does a great job of explaining what they do, but its only available in the US (OK, Canada too, but they’re the 51st state). SpinVox wins out because they don’t have such a lame limitation.
Every day that I drive down to work I use SpinVox and I am positive that it has saved my life more than a few times already. Give it a try and let me know what you think…