Another way that you could send text messages out from your computer is through AIM.
If you add a buddy with a ‘screenname’ in the following format, a text message is sent:
(where the FIRST office phone number is replaced by the person’s cell phone number (kudos to those who recognized this number without having to look it up (and the really sad part is that I didn’t have to look it up either…))
I haven’t tested this in a few months, but as long as there hasn’t been any major architecture changes to toc.oscar.aol.com, this should work just fine.
EDIT: Just tested it with my cell phone, works fine, and almost instantly.
Most carriers have email addresses that forward an email sent to the address to the phone. You don’t have to pay to send, but the receiver would be charged the standard text rate. I think you could just set up an email list with these addresses.
In addition to being able to push out a message, for those of us who may be “low-tech” it might be helpful to have a phone number with a recorded message that the team can call if weather is bad, etc. to find out if a meeting has been cancelled. Or maybe if they forgot where they were supposed to meet and pick up the bus to go to an event. Etc.
Now, the holy grail would be an answering machine that could have its messages set remotely…but if you had a mentor that would host it out of their house (and would be willing to put up with a ton of 8:00-AM-on-a-Saturday calls), good enough.
Or, if you were willing to shell out a bit more for peace and quiet and a clear phone line during such times, a second line for our house is $15.82 per month. $70 for such a system during the season (for three months, rather) doesn’t seem too terrible…but even better might be to set up a separate voicemail account through the school for the team, if your IT minions are cooperative.
Behold the power of VOIP… if you’re comfortable with computers, you can build yourself a VOIP solution for either free or very cheap, depending on your needs.
First, get yourself a Gizmo account (www.gizmoproject.com). It’s like Skype but uses standard, open protocols. Next, get yourself a VOIP phone number. If you don’t mind making your teammates call long distance (which often isn’t a big deal since cell phone LD is usually free), you can get a FREE* phone number at www.ipkall.com which can forward calls to your Gizmo account (Gizmo, of course, has built-in voicemail which is where you could put announcements, etc). If you’d prefer a local phone number, you can get one from www.sipphone.com for fairly cheap (like $4/month). With a little tinkering, you should have your “team hot line” all set to go. I don’t think you’d even have to leave the computer running (Gizmo voicemail should work even when you’re computer’s off I think). Note that these solutions allow call-in only (you’ll have to buy call-out minutes if you wish to do so from the Gizmo software). You’ll have to do some searching on how to point your IPKall number to Gizmo (SIPPhone numbers get set up for Gizmo automatically I think). There’s plenty of information out there so it’s not hard.
If you try any of this out and have success, post a response here. I think it’d be neat to see someone use this for their team.
So you’re asking: what’s the catch? How can they do that for free? Well, first there’s no ads, so don’t worry about that. Apparently, whenever a long distance call is placed, the phone company who owns the number which receives the call is paid a small amount by the phone company from which the call originated. IPKall manages to take these small payments and fund their whole operation off it. I’ve used it for goofing around with VOIP for a few years with good success, and no ill side-effects.
As an alternative to VOIP, running your own PBX or making an adult put up with phone calls at home, you can buy a prepaid cell phone. Tracfone http://www.tracfone.com has very reasonable rates and extremely inexpensive phones. These include voice mail that can be checked from any phone, so the message can be changed remotely.
Right now I see on their site a phone that comes with 140 minutes that lasts for 90 days for $30. A card for another hour and another 90 days costs $20, so for $50 it would get you well through the championship.
And it’s not like anyone will actually have conversations on the phone and consume any of the minutes… people would just call in to hear the voice message, which doesn’t cost anything. When you want to manage the voice mail you can call from another phone and it won’t cost anything.
It’s really really easy to do, especially with VB6. Unfortunately i’m not at the computer right now with the source code on it, but it wasn’t much to look at anyhow, really the code that actually sends the string was no more than 20 lines.
enjoy… its really a fun way of doing it… especially since… how often do you get to direct dial to a computer anymore? :rolleyes: