Google411 for Travelers and More

Google411 – The Perfect Phone Feature

by Gregory West

Probably by now most people have used or heard of the free directory assistance that is available on the Internet: That service works for both individual and business phone numbers and addresses.

Google has taken this technology much, much further. Enter: Google411.
Google offers a free phone directory and calling service that finds businesses and their phone numbers. Google will also connect you to the business immediately, or you can simply listen to the list of businesses and then make your choice.

The service is quite easy to use. You simply dial up 1-800-GOOG-411 (I have GOOG411 on my cell phone’s speed dial) and state your city and province. Then you say what it is you are looking for.

I tested it out by saying: “pizza”. A google voice began voicing the area pizza restaurants. If I had been hungry I could have easily been connected to the pizza business of my choice. This proves to be an excellent travel tool as you may want to book ahead a hotel room, reserve a seat in a restaurant and maybe check if a certain store is still open. At the present time Google only offers this service for business and non-profit listings, but not for residential information.

I love on my laptop for looking up names, addresses, and phone numbers, but when I nowhere near a WiFi hotspot, my cell phone gets me the information, connection and listings fast and extremely efficient.
For more information, head on over to this website: and watch a Google voice engineer demonstrate this highly excellent and free service.

Note: “ Google doesn’t charge you to access Google products from a mobile phone…Check with your provider for more information about fees associated with accessing the Internet from your mobile phone” (

Gregory West is a Mac Computer Instructor for Lambton College.  He also holds free “Basic PC Computer and Internet Training” seminars at Central United Church: – (Click on “Groups).
Gregory can be reached at
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Goodbye Ma Bell

Joanne and I now use Skype, an online computer phone connection.

We cut the Ma Bell Chord…And never looked back – $50+ bucks a month richer too.

We now use Skype for calls to phones from our computers. Of course, we both have cell phones therefore 911 is not an issue. Having a cell phone as my home phone only makes sense…It is always with you and you are never away from a call. When we travel in the States we can easily use our laptop with the Skype phone connection to call my “Home Phone” to check the phone messages. We all know how expensive it is using a Canadian cell phone in the USA…Ouch!

As for booking ahead in “motels” Skype is a great asset, however Joanne and I do not use motels. We have a travel trailer and are members of several camp groups in the USA, including KOA Campgrounds (free WiFi) whereby booking is very easy online and done so well in advance of our trips – months ahead. Provincial parks are booked 6 months to the day ahead online.

When we are traveling it is nice, especially while in the USA to use Skype phones to call and make reservations at restaurants that may be hundreds and several days away…Just go to their website, when you have a Skype phone setup on your laptop, all phone numbers are embossed and all you do is click on the phone number you would like to call. Works great. We did it for live theatre shows in Tennessee and West Virginia this past October while enroute. Got good seats too. We used this site in Tennessee.

I also like Skype at home to call some 1-800/866 etc. numbers that cannot be made from Ontario. With Skype you can make these calls. Joanne calls stores in Port Huron to check prices and availability of products before we go.

Agreed, Ma Bell will still keep the masses paying out those monthly phone bills, however if one does have a cell phone (many couples have 1 cell phone each these days) and with the advent of computer phone calling, why would anyone still need a HOME PHONE?

I have asked many people, you can try this too, (ones with cell phones) “If you had to make a choice, which phone would you give up, your Ma Bell home phone, or your cell phone.” After some thought all that I have asked said they could not do without their cell phones…

In fact, here is a comment made in by a person who has recently made the same move in dumping their land line: “I recently cancelled our home phone because I found out that our cable company (which also provides the phone line we used to have) offers a value tier for Internet access that is 256k (5 to 10 times faster than dial up using the phone line). We use our cellphones for phone calls. Since US Cellular offers free incoming calls, as well as free nights and weekends, that saves us a lot of money. And our cellphones are always with us. I feel much safer knowing I can call for roadside assistance…” from Phones & Utilities.

Joanne and I have cell phones packages (ironically with Bell Mobility) that offer free calling between 6 pm and 8 am weekdays and all weekend calling free. We also have 300 daytime minutes as well. I am not a phone gabber so I do not use up much time, neither is my wife, unless my daughter has some juicy gossip to relate. lol

In fact, many people today, when asked how to contact them, give out their cell phones before the home phone…They say they rarely use the home phone. In fact, I volunteer at the Imperial Theatre in the Box Office and many patrons, when giving their phone number, want to give their cell phone stating that it is much easier to contact them with that number versus their home phone.

It is just a matter of time, like in the ole days of us having those bulky bag phones many thought silly.

Ma Bell is scared…Just try to disconnect your telephone. My daughter, like many many many others have now switched to VOIP (voice over internet phones) via Cogeco Cable and have dumped Ma Bell. My daughter gets inundated with calls from Ma Bell reps begging her, offering her deals, to “please come back to Ma Bell”.

Amazing what a bit of competition does…Just wait until more and more companies like Skype Phone comes on board…Ma Bell, with its antiquated system (attached to a chord) is on its way to la la land, unless they too get on the band wagon, offering much better service for much much much lower costs.

I cannot wait to see the future of telephoning…