It’s Friday after a long week, so instead of wading into the latest journalism controversy (MSNBC suspends Keith Olbermann for contributing to Democratic candidates), I’m going to start a new feature today where I review freeware and shareware applications that apply to journalists and journalism students. I thought I’d start with the latest from sometime innovator, oft-time imitator Google.
At first glance, I thought GoogleVoice was Google trying to steal someone’s good idea. Unlike Wave, however, Voice is useful, unobtrusive, and perfect for people like me who think the Web’s the best Rolodex. Whenever I want to make a call now, I just Google the person and click on the blue phone number that appears. I even Googled my own house the other day.
The nice thing about GoogleVoice is you don’t have to make sure you have your mic and camera set up like Skype. You can select which phone line you want to use. I make my Google Voice calls through my office phone. I click the link, my office phone rings, and then connects to the person I want to call when I answer it.
This is a great tool for the journalist or journalism student because most journalists I’ve worked with, myself included, have been horrible at keeping our Rolodex’s up to date. I think mine was just a bunch of business cards stapled to pages. I think I tried to create an Excel file, as well, but petered out. The best way to manage contacts now would be through a Google Doc file because that would allow you to just click on someone’s number to make a call. The lazy man’s way to do it, however, would be to bookmark a contact’s website. If I had Google Voice at the Desert Dispatch, I think I would have single-handed been responsible for 25 % of the City of Barstow’s page views.
Using Google Voice is simple if you have a Gmail account. Login and you should see “Call Phones” and a green icon under the “contacts” menu on the left. Click it and follow the steps to install the plugin. Make sure you include your landline numbers during setup. Once setup is complete, most phone numbers you find on the Web will become clickable. Then it’s a simple as selecting which phone to use.
Next week, I’ll cover HyperDock, hopefully before you have to start paying for it.
PhotoCredit: Check out OfficeMonkeyKing’s other Rolodex art on his DeviantArt profile.