The Shopping Club

HAL.com

Mr. Bruce,

Mr. Wakeup and his companions may suit your temperament, but it’s probably not for me: Who wants to wake up every day and feel like he’s sleeping in a hotel? However, I am curious about this Dr. Dose character–is he the one who hangs out in Washington Square Park whispering “smoke, smoke” at passers-by?

I’m also excited about Dialpad.com and the other Web-to-phone services, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for my in-depth analysis. I’d also like to invite readers to e-mail me with their own free Internet favorites, and we’ll check them out. For now, I’ve got another great service for the obsessive-compulsive in all of us. A couple of sites (Coolemail.com and Shoutmail.com) give you a free e-mail account that you can check by calling a toll-free number. Dial the number, and after a short ad, a voice-synthesizing robot reads you what’s in your inbox. You can also check existing e-mail accounts over the phone, if you’re comfortable allowing Coolemail or Shoutmail to enter these accounts and copy the messages. Shoutmail also lets you hear other content, such as news bulletins, but I found these updates unimpressive.

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For someone like you, Bruce, who breaks out in a sweat after three hours without e-mail, it’s a great service. But again, it’s not my bag.  I have a computer at work, and one at home, and when I’m not at these places, I don’t need to check my e-mail. However, I have started sending myself e-mails just to hear the robot read them. It’s a pleasure that anyone who remembers the Macintalk voice-synthesis program will understand. Bruce, I challenge you to listen to it say “What is love?” or any of HAL’s lines from 2001 without grinning.

Bionically yours,
Andrew

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